When Shah Jahan called Srinagar as heaven on earth, he wasn’t wrong at all. Of all the places that I have been to in India, Srinagar in my opinion has the largest number of tourist attractions as compared to any other tourist destination. You can spend days here and will still not be done with the long list of “to visit” places. If you too are planning a trip to this beautiful part of our country, here is a long list of tourist attractions in Srinagar city. Some are located within the city itself and some within its vicinity.
Srinagar or the entire Himalayan region for that matter consists of numerous lakes, both large and small in size. One thing that is common among all these lakes however is that they are all stunningly beautiful in their own way. Below is a list of a few lakes in Srinagar city and nearby areas that are well worth a visit.
Dal Lake: Popularly known as ‘Srinagar’s Jewel’ or ‘Jewel in the crown of Kashmir’ and covering an area of 18 square kilometers, this is the second largest lake in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and over a period of time, has become the very symbol of the city. A trip to Srinagar is definitely incomplete without spending some time at this beautiful lake. If you can, book a houseboat and stay there. The night view of the city from a houseboat is a sight in itself.
Nigeen Lake: This small lake is situation right next to Dal Lake and is often called as “Jewel in the Ring”. There is a small causeway separating both these lakes but it is also sometimes considered as a part of Dal. The actual name of this small beautiful water body is actually Nageena, given because of surrounding large number of willow and poplar trees. “Nigeen” is a local variant of the “Nageena”.
Wular Lake: Wular Lake is one of the largest fresh water lakes in Asia and is considered the largest in India. It drains water from Jhelum river and there is a lot of wildlife in and around this lake. It is home to several spices of birds which is because of the fact that it is located near the Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary. Several species of fishes like rosy barb, common carp and mosquito fish are found in this lake. Another interesting thing is that the size of this lake depends on the season and can vary from 30 sq. km to 260 sq. km. Please note though that it is not located within the city of Srinagar. Srinagar to wular lake distance is approximately 65 kms and it is usually half a day trip to the lake and back.
Manasbal Lake: Located 30 kms from Srinagar, this lake is a good place for bird watching as it is one of the largest natural stamping grounds of Aquatic birds in Kashmir.
Anchar Lake: It is surprising to see how a lake this large can deteriorate in a tourist place like Sriangar. It was once a popular tourist destination and houseboats used to travel here from Dal via a small channel that connects both these lakes. Even though it still attracts tourist, it seems like this lake has lost its glory until the authorities take some action to restore it.
Gangabal Lake: Located at a distance of 60 kms from Srinagar out of which 45 kms are covered via road and last 15 kms are a trek either done on foot or horse ride, this lake is situated at the foothills of Mount Harmukh.
Khushal Sar: Once beautiful but now in highly deteriorated condition, this small lake has been encroached upon at many places with illegal construction and land-filling. I added it to the list here because it is in fact one of the several lakes located here but it is not a tourist destination anymore. It is connected to the Anchar lake via a small channel.
Gil Sar: Another highly deteriorated small lake in the region, connected to Nigeen lake via a small channel. It must have been beautiful sight once but just a sad shadow of its history now. Not really a place to visit but added here to the list nonetheless.
Another thing that Srinagar is famous for apart from the lakes is of course its beautiful gardens, some built by Mughals and some recently developed.
Shalimar Bagh: Also known as garden of Char Minar, Faiz Baksh and Farah Baksh, this beautiful garden was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1616 for his wife Noor Jahan. It has four terraces, fountains and a canal that is connected to Dal Lake, for the purpose of watering the gardens. It is the largest Mughal garden in India and with Dal lake in the background, its beauty is unmatched in Autumn and Spring seasons.
Nishat Bagh: Meaning “ Garden of Joy,” “Garden of Gladness” and “Garden of Delight”, it is the second largest Mughal garden in Kashmir valley. It is located on the eastern side of Dal Lake and was built in 1633 by Abdul Hasan Asaf Khan, brother of Nur Jahan and father of Mumtaz Mahal. It is a terraced garden that has around 12 terraces, fountains, flowerbeds and huge lawns. It is said that Shah Jahan was so impressed with the beauty of this garden that he hoped that his father in law would gift it to him. When this did not happen, the Mughal Emperor was so disappointed that he immediately closed the water supply to this garden leading the garden to be deserted. He realized his mistake later and ordered full restoration rights for the supply of water to the garden to Asif Khan, his Prime Minister and father-in-law. Located on the bank of the Dal Lake and the Zabarwan Mountains as its backdrop, Nishat Bagh commands a magnificent view of the lake beneath the snow-capped Pir Panjal mountain range that stands far away to the west of the valley.
Chashm-e-Shahi: Meaning “The Royal Spring” it is smallest of all the Mughal Gardens in Kashmir valley. It was built by Shah Jahan as a gift to his elder son, Prince Dara Shikoh.
Nasim Bagh: Built on the banks of River Jhelum in 1586 by Emperor Akbar, it is a popular camping site among the tourists. The garden sits on the west side of Dal, overlooking the beautiful lake.
Chinar Bagh: Recently developed by Tourism department, this park is known for its musical fountains and holding an open theater. Several tourists activities like camp fire, fishing and swimming competitions are also arranged here.
Achabal Gardens: This Mughal garden is located approximately 65 kms from Srinagar and 8 kms from Anantnag. The garden was created at the site of a powerful spring, which enters the garden as a waterfall.
Verinag Gardens: Closed to Anantnag and 65 kms from Srinagar, this garden is considered as the first tourist spot of Kashmir valley. It is built right next to Verinag Spring, another tourist attraction which is a major source of River Jhelum. Verinag Spring and Mughal Arcade surrounding it is officially recognized by Archaeological Survey of India as a Monument of National Importance.
Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden: As the name suggests, this garden is famous for over 70 different varities of coloured tulip flowers. It is located approximately 8 kms from Srinagar.
Harwan Gardens: Located about 15 kms from Srinagar, it is another one of the beautiful gardens in Kashmir valley.
Badamwari Garden: Not many people have heard this name. This small quiet garden is situated on the banks of Nigeen lake and is named after Almond trees, planted by then ruling king. The garden was revived by the JK Bank and formally thrown open for public in 2008.
Below is a list of historical sites in the Kashmir valley. If you have even the slightest of interest in history, archaeology or even photography, pay these places a visit and you will not be disappointed.
Pari Mahal: Literally meaning “House of Fairies” this monument was once a Buddhist monastery and later became a school of astrology.
Hari Parbat Fort: Built in 18th century by an Afghan governor Atta Muhammad Khan and restored by Emperor Akbar in 1590, this fort is located on west of Dal Lake. It hosts a famous Hindu temple, two shrines of locally venerated Muslim saints and a Sikh Gurudwara.
Sri Pratap Singh Museum: A historical place famous for several ancient artifacts as old as from 3rd and 4th century.
Burzahom: Literally meaning “place of birth”, it is an archaeological site from where artifacts as old as from 5000 years ago were recovered. Animal and human skeletons of Neolithic era have also been collected from this site.
Parihaspore: Located 22 kms from Srinagar, these are ruins of an ancient town built in 700 AD and served as capital of Kashmir.
PLACES OF RELIGIOUS IMPORTANCE
Like rest of the India, Srinagar is a place where you will find religious places belonging to every faith. Most of these places are millenniums old and hold importance both in terms of religion and history.
Shankaracharya Temple: Overlooking the city of Srinagar, this temple sits at a height of 1,000 ft above the plain on a summit of the same name and also known as Takht-e-Sulaiman. It is believed to be built in 200 BC.
Amarnath Cave: Located 141 kms from Srinagar at an altitude of 3,888 meters, Amarnath cave is considered to be one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism. Hundreds of thousands of devotees make the annual pilgrimage known as Amarnath Yatra to this cave.
Hazratbal Mosque: Located on the banks of Dal Lake with large mountains in the backdrop, it is a white marble mosque famous for consisting of a relic believed to have a hair of Prophet Muhammad.
Kheer Bhawani Temple: Located about 20 kms from Srinagar, it is a beautiful temple of Goddess Bhawani.
Yousmarg: Located 50 kms from Srinagar, this small hill station is famous as the place where Jesus Christ is believed to have stayed during his visit to Kashmir. That is where the name Yous-Marg comes from.
Jamia Masjid: Built in 1394 and destroyed and restored several times since then, it is one of the oldest mosques in Srinagar.
Charar-e-Sharif: 28 kms from Srinagar, it is a holy shrine built over 600 years ago and is commonly known as Hazrat Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Wali.
Jyeshtheswara temple: Believed to be built by Pandavas in 5th century, this temple is a popular tourist destination.
Rainwari: A sacred site famous for a Gurudwara built by Guru Hargobind Sahib ji.
Roza bal: A shrine that is claimed by both Muslims and Christians. What makes it famous though is that several people believe it to be the burial site of Jesus Christ himself.
Madin Sahib: An ancient mosque famous for its unique and rare tile work that is not seen in any other monument in Indian sub-continent.
Dastgeer Sahib: This shrine was built in 1806 and if known for an old Quran written by Hazrat Abu Bakr Sidiqqi, Hazrat Ali, and the Mouia Pak, a piece of hair from Gous E Azam.
Pathar Masjid: Also known as Naev Masheed, this mosque was built by Mughal Empress Noor Jehan, the wife of emperor Jehangir. It is famous for its distinct construction like no traditional pyramidal roof, nine mehraabs (arches) with the central one being larger than the others.
Khanqah-e-Moula: Popularly known as just Khanqah, it is one of the oldest mosques, built in 1395 by Sultan Sikander in honour of Mir Syed Ali Hamdani, who popularized Islam in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is famous the wooden structure within which has a covered roof and hanging bells.
Makhdum Sahib Shrine: It is an ancient mosque built in the name of Sufi Saint Makhdum Sahib or Hazrat Sultan.
Masjid of Akhund Mullah: Considered as a mosque within a mosque, it is a small mosque located close to Maskhdum Sahib Mosque. It is known for a stone lotus on top of the podium and a specially constructed prayer chamber.
Imambara Hassanabad: Another ancient mosque in the region known for its distinct Indo-Iranian construction style. It was built in 1857 in shape of octagon with five entry points for women worshipers.
Khanqah of Khwaja Moinuddin Naqshbandi: Popularly known as just Naqshband Shrine, this mosque is known for being the place where hair of Prophet Muhammad was kept before getting moved to Hazratbal Mosque.
OTHER TOURIST DESTINATIONS
Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary: A permit is required to enter this wildlife sanctuary. It is home to a variety of wildlife and is a popular tourist spot.
Char Chinar: This is actually a part of the Dal Lake. Char Chinar consists of four chinar trees standing on a small island within Dal Lake.
Challi Point: A popular tourist spot in Srinagar. Located right next to the Dal Lake, it is famous for view of the lake with Sankaracharya hill in back drop
I hope this information was helpful. If you know of any other place that I may have missed adding here, please feel free to suggest in the comments sections below and I will add it to the list. If you have any further question, please ask and I will be glad to answer.