One of the largest city and the summer capital of the state derives its name from Sanskrit ‘Surya Nagar’ which was transformed into Srinagar locally as years passed by. The ancient city of Srinagar has been a major site for historic and cultural events for decades. On the banks of the serene Jhelum River, the city is famous for its Mughal gardens, Shrines, temples, and lakes. Srinagar’s crown jewel is its pristine Dal Lake stretching out several kilometers nestled amongst the mighty mountains. The city is also famous for its nine old bridges connecting two parts of the city divided by Jhelum which flows through it, the numerous lakes and swamps around cities include Dal, Nigeen, Anchar, Khushal sar, Gil sar and Hokersar. Its nick named the ‘Venice of the east’ for its alluring beauty.
Hazratbal Shrine one of the holiest shrines in the valley situated at the banks of Dal Lake contains a relic which is believed to be the hair of Muhammad brought to India by Syed Abdullah. The Shrine is named from Urdu word Hazrat meaning ‘respected’ and bal meaning place.
Jamia Masjid at the middle of old city Nowhatta was built by Sikendar Shah, located in a historical area and built having similarities of Buddhist pagodas and it is constructed in a Persian style. There have been major renovations over a period of time by Kashmir Shahmiri, Sulthan Hassan Shah, Jehangir Shah, Aurangzeb Aalamgir shah and Maharaja Pratap Singh. The mosque is designed to fit 30 thousand people for a prayer congregation.
Khanqah E Moula
Khanqah E Moula among the oldest shrines of the city built by Sikendar Shah during the 13th century popularly known as Khanqah at the banks of Jhelum River. The interiors are well crafted and painted with antique chandeliers give it an air of opulence, it is dedicated to preacher Mir Syed Ali Hamdani from Persia who is also credited with the spread of Islam in Kashmir. It is one of the first mosques to be built in Srinagar and has a special significance on the 6th of Zilhaj which is a last month of the Muslim calendar, on this occasion devotees visit the shrine in large numbers to pay tribute to Shah Hamadan on his death anniversary.
Aali Masjid comes as a second largest mosque after Jamia Masjid built during the 14th century during the rule of Hassan Shah. It has the vernacular wooden architecture of Kashmir with the rich historical background.
Hari Parbat overlooks Srinagar city preached on top of Sharika hill, it is one of the ancient forts in Srinagar. A primordial fort belongs to the Moghul Empire, it also goes by the names Kooh E Sulaimaani, Pradyumna Peeth and it is a notable place for it hosts Sharika temple, a shrine of Hamza Makhdoom, Shah Badakhshi and Gurdwara Chatti Patshahi belonging to different religions. Durrani fort first fortifications constructed by Moghul Emperor Akbar who built the outer wall as a larger plan to make a new capital by name Nager Nagor which remained incomplete, the hill hosts a temple Shakti which is sacred to the Kashmiri Pandits located in the middle of the western slope. Hari Parbat features Makhdoom Sahib to the southern side, it’s the shrine of Hamza Makhdoom, a 16th century Kashmiri Sufi saint, another shrine on the southern side is dedicated to Shah Badakhshi saint of the 17th century. It is also a host to Gurdwara Chatti Patshahim, it is one of the important Sikh Gurudwara, it is believed that Guru Har Gobind preached here and stayed for few days.
Shankaracharya Temple an ancient temple having its origin in the 4th century is also called Jyeteshwara temple and Pas-Pahar by Buddist. It is perched on top of the Shankaracharya Hill which also goes by the name Gopadari Hill on the Zabarwan Mountain in Srinagar, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva and it is the oldest temple in the valley. It is believed to be built by Raja Gopadatya around 371BC giving it a name Gopadri, Shankaracharya a great philosopher lived here when he visited Kashmir to revive Sanatan Dharma, the incidents led to the temple being renamed after him. Many additions and changes have been made to the original structure. The temple rests on a solid rock and the temple is flocked by the pilgrims during the Amarnath Yatra.
Pathar Masjid built by Empress Noor Jahan wife of Jehangir in the 16th century, the mosque has some distinct features that are different from mosques in the rest of the valley. It is built in grey limestone which was found locally and which could be carved and polished easily. The mosque follows a Moghul pattern rather than a Kashmiri style of architecture and lies idle as of today.
All Saints Church and Holy Family Catholic Church
All Saints Church and Holy Family Catholic Church All Saints’ church also goes by the name All Hollows church is a historical protestant church in the city and a province of the worldwide Anglican Communion, it is one of the two main church in the valley and dedicated to All Saints.
Holy Family Catholic Church is a church dedicated to Roman Catholic established in the 18th century by Mill Hill Missionaries, both the churches are an important place of worship for minority Christian community.
Dal Lake the crown jewel of Srinagar is the second largest lake in the state. The colorful houseboats of Dal lake are referred as floating palaces though they are stationary, the Shikara a small paddled taxi boat is a symbol of Kashmir used to ferry guest around the lake and Jhelum River offering scenic views of the Pir Panjal mountains and the seven bridges with backwaters. The Mughals are credited with the development around the lake with sprawling Mughal type gardens, they used the place as a summer resort for its cool climate. The lake has many attractions around like Hazratbal Shrine, an island of Char Chinar, Mazar E Shura.
Nagin Lake is a part of Dal Lake though it is referred as a separate lake. The beauty of Dal Lake has attracted many filmmakers. The Lake is flocked by tourist around the world and it’s usually a first stop for them in the valley.
Chashme Shahi also goes by the name Chashma Shahi, built during the 16th century by Ali Mardan Khan, he held the post of the governor and built the garden on the orders of the Emperor Shah Jahan to be gifted to his eldest son Dara Shikoh, the name is derived from the female saint of Kashmir Rupa Bhawani who discovered the freshwater springs in the garden and she belonged to the Kashmiri Pandits, it is smaller of the three Mughal gardens at Srinagar. The garden has Iranian influence to it and architecture based on the Persian gardens. The spring water is believed to have medicinal properties and former prime minister of India used to get this water to Delhi.
Nishat Bagh the second largest Mughal garden, nicknamed ‘garden of joy’ is built on the eastern side of the Dal Lake. Built during the 16th century by Asif Khan is lined with avenues of Chinar and Cypress trees, it also has 12 terraces representing zodiacal signs. It is said that Shah Jahan was so envious at the grandeur of the gardens that he hoped his father in law (Asif Khan) would gift it to him and he had cut off the water supply to the gardens when it was not handed over to him. Mughul princess Zuhra Begum Daughter of Mughal Emperor Alamgir II is buried here.
Shalimar Bagh at the right bank of Dal Lake is the Largest Mughal garden which also goes by the names Farah Baksh and Faiz Baksh. It was built by Emperor Jahangir to his wife Noor Jahan in the 16th century and over the years the garden was extended and improved by many rulers and the layout of the garden is another adaptation of Persian gardens. The garden consists of three terraces with Diwan E Aam (public audience hall), Diwan E Khas (the hall of private audience) and 410 fountains. The Bagh is well known for its chini Khanas behind garden waterfalls, they are unique and are lighted with oil lamps at night which gives a fairy tale appearance to the waterfalls.
Pari Mahal built by Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh in the 16th century also called ‘The Angels Abode’ is a seven terraced garden at the Zabarwan mountain range, the Islamic architecture was during the reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, it severed as a library and an Abode for Dara Shikoh and further it was used as observatory to teach astrology and astronomy.
Indra Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden
Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden is one of the largest tulip gardens in Asia and hosts an annual Tulip festival during the onset of spring season in the valley, previously it was a Model Floriculture center and overlooks Dal Lake located at the foothills of the Zabarwan Range, A good variety and many other species of flowers can be found here.