Located in the north of India, Srinagar is the largest city and summer capital of the Indian administered state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is a beautiful place and famous for its beautiful Mughal gardens and lakes. Nowadays, it is considered safer to travel to Srinagar, but you can still find armed soldiers guarding the streets of Srinagar. Being my first time traveling here made me a bit nervous, but Alhamdulillah, everything went well.
I traveled with my buddy, ET, to North India last year for 2 weeks. Our desire was to travel to Leh-Ladakh by overland. Srinagar was our departure point for our overland journey and we only stayed for 1 night in Srinagar at our friend’s house. We took the opportunity to roam the city by chartering an auto rickshaw for a half day, and visited almost all of the attractive places in the city. With the help of a kind old man we met, we were able to enjoy the beautiful views with a bargained fare. So, here’s the lists of what we did and where we went in Srinagar in a day.
It is one of the most beautiful terraced Mughal garden in Srinagar and is the second largest Mughal garden in the Kashmir Valley. Designed by Asaf Khan, the brother-in-law of Mughal Emperor Jahangir in 1633, it is filled with chinars, flowers, fountains and awesome landscape with Pir Panjal mountain range as background view. We met school children there who were having fun in the sun. They were so beautiful to look at. They were actually on school trips to enjoy the view and good weather. When we asked them for a photo, they became excited, and later took our photos the most. I felt like a celebrity myself for a moment.
This terraced Mughal garden was built overlooking the magnificent Dal Lake. It is famous for its spring water which according to local legend, it can cure illnesses due to its medicinal properties. People lined up to drink or collect water from the origin of the spring. Even after some times passed, the line seemed to never end. We then decided to spend our time here looking at the colorful flowers around the garden and observing people enjoying their time out in the sun.
This is another terraced Mughal garden in Srinagar. It is located above the Chashma Shahi at the top of Zabarwan mountain range. This garden was built by a Mughal Prince in the mid-1600s and was used as an observatory to study astrology and astronomy. The building depicts an example of Islamic architecture and patronage of art during the reign of the then Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. The garden is now the property of Srinagar government. When we reached there, it was almost noon, and it was so hot that we decided to just sit underneath a tree and enjoying the view of Dal Lake.
This masjid (mosque) is situated in the middle of the Old City. It is the oldest and biggest mosque in India, and it is believed to be a sacred shrine for Muslims. Jamia Masjid is famous for its beautiful construction. There are about 370 wooden pillars supporting wooden ceilings and a splendid courtyard. There is a fountain in the middle of it which is also used for ablution (wudhu’). We took our time enjoying the view while waiting for the Zuhr praying time. It was so peaceful amidst the busy bazaars surrounding the mosque.
Another famous mosque in Srinagar is Hazratbal Mosque or Shrine. It kept, what has been believed by many Muslims of Kashmir, a relict which is the hair of Prophet Muhammad. It was said that the relic was first brought to India by Syed Abdullah, a purported descendent of the prophet. The name of the mosque means a “respected place” and considered to be Kashmir’s holiest Muslim shrine. We weren’t able to pray in the mosque as it only allows men to pray in it. We spent a very short time here as the tiredness has caught up with us and the weather became too hot to stay outdoor.
Known as “Srinagar’s Jewel”, Dal Lake plays an important role in the tourism industry in Kashmir. Most tourists came here to experience staying in the houseboats as an alternative to staying in typical hotel. You could find hundreds of houseboats that offers beautiful and luxurious interior designs complete with various tour packages. We just passed along the lake as we planned to spend most of our times at Nigeen Lake, where our friend’s house is located at.
Smaller than Dal Lake, Nigeen Lake is also a tourist attraction in Kashmir that offers beautiful view and interesting activities. Houseboats and shikaras are a common sight. Truthfully, I prefer Nigeen Lake as it is less crowded than Dal Lake. We stayed at Siddique’s family house for 1 night, and it was an amazing experience.
The family members welcomed us with warm hearts and open hands, especially both Papaji and Mamaji. Papaji owned a shikara, which he took us for an evening ride to watch the beautiful sunset, and an early morning ride the next day to the floating market. At night, we were served with hearty dinner and we ate like the locals. We were also entertained by Ibrahim, Siddique’s young cousin with games. We had a long talk with Papaji on various subjects, from local politics to his dream of buying more lands in Srinagar. All in all, I was truly blessed for having the chance to meet this family, and I hope we can meet again in the future.