The Dal is famous not only
for its beauty, but for its vibrance, because it sustains within
its periphery, a life that is unique anywhere in the world. The
houseboat and Shikara communities have lived for centuries on the
Dal, and so complete is their infrastructure on the lake, that
they never have to step on land! Doctors, tailors, bakers- one can
see them all in tiny wooden shops on the lake, near picturesque
vegetable gardens and acres of lotus gardens.
Nagin Lake, which is usually thought of as a separate lake, is
also divided from Dal Lake only by a causeway. The causeways are
mostly suitable for walkers and bicycles only so they make a very
pleasant way of seeing the lake without having to worry about
traffic or Shikaras. The main causeway across the lake carries the
water pipeline for Srinagar's mains water supply.
There are three main islands in the lake, each poplar
excursion points. Silver Island is at the northern end of Dal Lake
and is also known as "Char Chinar" after the four-chinar
trees, which grow on it. There's a small snack bar on the island
as there is also on Gold Island at the south end of the lake. It
is also known as "Char Chinar" for it too has four
The third island is Nehru Park, at the end of the main stretch of
the boulevard and only a short distance from the shore. It too has
a restaurant although it's a very run down, miserable affair. The
children's playground here has also seen better days. Often in
summer there are evening shows, dances and festivals held at Nehru
North of Nehru Island a long causeway leads out into the lake from
the boulevard just off its end is "Kotar Khana", the
'house of pigeons', which was once a royal summer house.
From above Zero Bridge to below Badshah Bridge one can walk along
the banks of the Jhelum River on the popular footpath known as the
bund. It's a pleasant relaxing place to stroll along and many
Doonga houseboats can be seen beside it. The GPO, the government
handicrafts emporium and a string of handicraft shops are all
close beside the Bund.
Shri Pratap Singh Museum
The Shri Pratap Singh museum is in Lal Mandi, just south of the
river between zero bridge and Amira Kadal. It has an interesting
collection of exhibits relevant to Kashmir including illustrated
tiles excavated near Harwan.
The museum is open from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm except on Wednesdays
when it is closed and admission is free.
was a favourite of the Mughal emperors who visited it as often as
they could. Cool and refreshing after the plains of North India
where the business of governance kept them, they planted gardens
with stepped terraces and flowing watercourses. When they rested
in their gardens, they dreamt they were in paradise.
The next garden along the road that encircles the Dal is the
Nishat, built by empress Nur Jahan's brother Asaf Khan. The
largest of the gardens, Nishat has several terraces, a central
watercourse and a majestic site between the Dal and the Zabarwan
The third Mughal garden - the Shalimar - was planted by Jehangir,
the Mughal emperor, whose love for Kashmir was legendary. Shaded
by magnificent Chinar trees, the Shalimar is a series of stone
pavilions and flowing water with paint box bright flowerbeds.
Shalimar were built by Emperor Jehangir for his wife Nur Jahan,
'light of the world' in 1616. Although it is known today as the
'garden of love' it was originally named the Farah Bakhsh or
The garden is built in four terraces with traditional water
channel running down the middle. The gardens measure 540 by 183
metres. During the Mughal period the top terraces used be reserved
for the emperor and the ladies of the court and was the most
magnificent. It included a pavilion made of black stone in the
middle of the tank. Black Marble fluted pillars supported the
pavilion, which was used as a banquet hall.
Shalimar Bagh has an air of seclusion and repose, and its rows of
fountains and shaded trees seem to recede towards the snowcapped
mountains. A Son Et Lumeiere or sound and light show is put on
here every evening during the May to October tourist season.
The old Sufi college of Pari Mahal, the 'palace of the
fairies', is only a short distance above the Chasma Shahi gardens.
One can easily walk from the gardens up to the Pari Mahal then
follow a footpath directly down the hill to the road that runs by
the Oberoi Palace Hotel. The Pari Mahal consists of a series of
arched terraces. Recently it has been turned into a very pleasant
and well-kept garden with fine views over Dal Lake. It's
attractively sited on a spur of the Zabarwan Mountains. The
gardens are beautifully kept even today and a Son Et Lumiere show
is put on here every evening during the May to October tourist
The Nishat Bagh is another lovely garden with its 12 terraces
representing the 12 signs of the zodiac, which descend gradually
and seem to almost merge into the lake. It is situated on the
banks of world famous Dal Lake in the backdrop of Zabarwan hills.
With its flowerbeds, trees, fountains, the Nishat presents a
dramatic sight. The gardens were designed in 1633 by Asaf Khan,
brother of Nur Jahan, and follow the same pattern as the Shalimar
gardens with a polished stone channel running down the centre and
a series of terraces.
It's the largest of the Mughal gardens measuring 548 metres by 338
metres, and often the most crowed. The walks beside the channel
are bordered with lines of cypresses and Chinars. Also found
within its vicinity are some remains of Mughal period buildings
including a double storey pavilion enclosed on two sides latticed
Directly behind the garden is the Gopi Tirth, a small spring
gushing forth crystal clear water, which feeds the garden water.
Cheshma Shahi is the first Mughal garden one will pass after Nehru
Park. Built at a height above the city, its views are as
stupendous as its layout. The smallest of Srinagar's Mughal
gardens, Cheshma Shahi has only three terraces in addition to a
natural spring of water enclosed in a stone pavilion.
Smallest of the Srinagar Mughal gardens, measuring just 108 metres
by 38 metres, the Chasma Shahi, or 'Royal Spring', are well up the
hillside, above the Nehru Memorial Park. The fresh water spring in
these pleasant, quieter gardens is reputed to have medicinal
The gardens were laid out in 1632 by Ali Mardan Khan and include
three terraces, an aqueduct, waterfalls and fountains. The water
from the spring supplies the fountains and then goes through the
floor of the pavilion and falls to the lower terrace in a fine
cascade of five metres, over a polished black stone chute.
Some extensions have recently been made to the gardens. Like all
the gardens the Chasma Shahi is open from sunrise to sunset but
unlike the other gardens this is the only one, which charges
admission. There is a small shrine, the Chasma Sahibi, near the
gardens, which also has a fresh water spring
Mosque is located in a village of the same name on the banks of
the Dal. Its pristine white marble elegance is reflected in the
waters of the lake.
special significance is derived from the fact that it houses a
hair of the prophet Muhammad. This is displayed to the public on
religious occasions, usually accompanied by fairs. Apart from
these occasions, Friday prayers are offered at Hazratbal and
attended by throngs of people. Hazratbal is remarkable for being
the only domed mosque in Srinagar; the others having distinct
pagoda like roofs. The shrine – mosque complex is situated on
the western shore of the Dal Lake opposite Nishat Bagh and
commands a grand view of the lake and the mountain beyond.
temple of Shankaracharya occupies the top of the hills known as
Takht-I-Sulaiman in the south-east of Srinagar. The site dates
back to 250BC. The philosopher Shankaracharya stayed at this place
when he visited Kashmir ten centuries ago to revive Sanatan
this date, the temple was known as Gopadri, as an earlier edifice
on the same site was built by king Lalitaditya in the 6th century
AD. In fact, the road below the hill, with residences of high-
ranking State Government officials, is still known as Gupkar road.
Built on a high octagonal plinth and approached by a flight of
steps with side walls that once bore inscriptions, the main
surviving shrine consists of a circular cell. It overlooks the
Valley and can be approached by a motorable road. A modern ceiling
covers the inner sanctum and an inscription in Persian traces its
origin to the reign of Emperor Shah Jehan. The original ceiling
was dome- shaped and the brick roof, it appears, is not more than
a century old.
Khanqah of Shah Hamadan
Situated on the banks of the river Jhelum, between the third and
fourth bridge, it is the first mosque ever built in Srinagar.
The original one was built in 1395.
Hamadan's full name was Mir Sayed Ali Hamadni, the surname being
derived from the city of Hamadan in Persia. Shah-i-Hamdan, who
came from Persia in the 13th century, was responsible for the
spread of Islam in Kashmir. Khanqah-i-Mualla, on the banks
of the Jhelum, was the very spot where Shah-i-Hamdan used to offer
staying in Kashmir for many years, he left for Central Asia via
Ladakh.A mosque established by him at Shey (near Leh)
attracts devotees from far and wide.
The Khanqah is a wooden structure whose chief aesthetic feature is
its beautifully carved eaves and hanging bells. The interiors are
richly carved and painted, and the antique chandeliers give it an
air of opulence.
Parbat Fort & Temple of Sharika Devi
emperor's fort crowns the top of Hari Parbat hill. There is little
left of its former glory, but the ramparts
are still impressive and the old apartments within the fort, even
though in a state of ruin, still convey at least a little of the
grandeur of the Mughals’ summer retreat in ‘paradise’. The
fort was later developed in 18th century by an Afghan
governor, Ata Mohammad Khan. The hill is considered sacred to the
Hindus due to the presence of temple of Sharika, which is
believed to be a form of goddess Durga or Shakti. The wall
around the hill was built by Akbar in 1592-98 AD. The hill is
surrounded by almond orchards, which make a lovely sight during
April when the trees blossom, heralding the advent of spring in