When Kashmir becomes the topic of discussion, it is like a magnificent jewel shining on the peak of the map of India. It is beautifully adorned by the Great Himalayan Range and the Pir Panjal: in the north and south, respectively. Kashmir has always been addressed with great pleasure as the 'Paradise on Earth'.
Srinagar again has a lot of waterfront gardens which have been put together with a lot of affection and are known as the Mughal gardens. The main highlight about your trip to Srinagar shall be the fact that the people are warm and hospitable and talk nineteen to the dozen. Their stories are amazing and one of a kind and you should definitely lend your ears when you are there. Let us see what else can arouse your interest in this wonderland!
1) Sharika Devi Temple:
When you visit the Hari Parvat in Srinagar, you shall see the Sharika Devi Temple located on the western slope. It is built in fond memory of the Goddess Jagadamba Sharika Bhagwati, who is a personification of Mata Durga/Shakti. The idol residing in the temple comprises 18 arms and is sincerely prayed to by the Hindu followers. If you ask the Kashmiri Pandits, they consider it to be extremely holy and the day is felicitated as 'Har Navum'.
On the auspicious occasion of Sharika Bhagwati's birthday, the shrine is frequented by a lot of devotees from all over. Heard of 'Taher Charvan?" It is a dish specially offered to the goddess comprising boiled rice along with a dash of turmeric, salt, oil and yet another dish consisting of the cooked liver of goat. Let this visit to the temple top your list before you head elsewhere.
2) Zero Bridge:
Next, how about a stroll at the Zero bridge? It was initially called 'Zorr' bridge as it was built by a deaf contractor and 'zorr' means 'deaf' in Kashmiri. This is one of the oldest and most iconic bridges which reflects the rich cultural heritage of Kashmir, located on the river Jhelum. The bridge is a joining point between Rajbagh and Sonwar and is loaded with kiosks and food courts which shall attract a lot of tourists.
The bridge has been solely built for pedestrian movement and even a nice design structure of a houseboat is touched up nearby. The food court shall also welcome you with four-seater dining tables, a kitchen, two washrooms as well as a lounge. All facilities just for your convenience; plus the roof of the court is thermo treated owing to the cold climate of Kashmir.
How about proceeding to explore the mysterious site of Rozabal? It is a small, green-coloured shrine near the Sufi shrine of Pir Dastgir Sahib, at the north end of a triangular patch of grass. What is the puzzling theory revolving around it? That the shrine's crypt probably retains the grave of Jesus Christ. People have been debating if it was actually the burial place of Jesus of Nazareth? Maybe, Jesus did not die when crucified but spent his remaining years in Kashmir and breathed his last in the shrine. Foreigners are usually curious about the shrine and nowadays, tourists usually are lectured about the shrine and some knowledge about Islam is also imparted to them.
4) Chashme Shahi Or Royal Spring:
If we talk about the Mughal Gardens in Srinagar, they are three in number. The smallest among them is the Chashme Shahi or 'The Royal Spring' and measurements are 108 m long and 38 m wide. A string of royal and perennial springs make it a picture perfect storehouse of beauty. Guess who built this brilliant piece of architecture? The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1632 AD.
Have you ever wondered how the springs chanced upon their royal name? It was by the great female saint of Kashmir, 'Rupa Bhawani'. She came with an impressionable family name 'Sahibi' and that is how it initially got its name 'Chashme Sahibi'. Now let us ponder about its location. It is at the foothills of the Zabarwan mountain ranges near Raj Bhawan, Srinagar.
The garden is extremely well-known for its cooling mineral water. It comprises three terraces and a couple of fountains and some gushing springs. You can spot numerous fruits, flowers and Chinar trees dotting the garden and making it all the more beautiful. This garden is named after a huge mountain spring which waters it and hence the name 'Chashme Shahi'. It has been renovated plenty of times to retain its charm and is a fascinating place which you should definitely visit.
5) The Floating Vegetable Market:
This is something interesting for all of you as here we shall talk about the sabji walas who have their vegetable market floating on the mesmerizing Dal Lake. It has an enchanting variety of organic vegetables. You shall have to wake at the crack of dawn to catch a glimpse of it at 4 am and then it continues only up to 6 am.
People usually book the houseboats of Dal Lake and the first thing the next morning is the sound of the morning prayers coming from the mosque which gives an indication that the market is about to open. Shikaras shall carry you to the market but it is always wise to book a Shikara beforehand as finding one in the morning could be a tough job! Why are we stressing on the Shikaras?
Well, you shall thank us for the wonderful views it shall present you with while on the way. The migrating birds chattering in unison, the magnificent view of the horizon and the serene music of the Dal Lake shall transport you into a beautiful world. You shall get to see hundreds of boats decorated with vegetables of vibrant colours, old Kashmiri women will be seen in the market along with their grandchildren and the best part is the sabzi walas flaunting their traditional attires.
And definitely, do not miss their banter in their Kashmiri language, as it highlights the true 'Kashmiriyat' feeling. It is a wholesale vegetable market where the shopkeepers buy vegetables from the farmers and later sell it all in the market.
6) Tulip Gardens:
2007 saw the opening of the blooming Tulip Gardens in order to advance the prospects of tourism and floriculture. An amazing variety of extraordinary Tulips make an exemplary show at the Tulip Garden Srinagar Festival. There is a variety of tulips which is extremely rare: 'Queen Of The Night' variety, but even that can be spotted during the night.
If we talk about 2017, around 40 varieties were put up for exhibition and several lakh flowers were in blooming mode! The festival is constantly upgrading its amenities to provide the tourists with a more pleasurable experience. As in 2018, the Tulip Garden Srinagar Festival provided people with more drinking facilities, toilets for the differently-abled and, of course, free Wi-Fi!
Also, you shall definitely make a lot of memories in this wonderful place. So how about carrying back home some souvenirs from the kiosks set outside the garden! Beautiful traditional handicrafts, as well as delicious Kashmiri cuisine to satisfy your taste-buds, shall make your trip to this place quite pleasant. And do not forget to click some pictures to make your Instagram home page a tad bit colourful!
Best time to visit is when the festival takes place during the months of March, April or May and the timings remain 9 am to 7 pm. The entry charges are INR 50 for adults and INR 25 for kids.
7) Silk-weaving Factory:
If we talk about the silk-weaving factory in Srinagar, the state of Jammu and Kashmir flaunts of having a traditional base in Srinagar. The processing of reeling cocoons has decreased to a large extent in the state resulting in closing down of two supplementary silk reeling units in Srinagar.
Financial help was taken from the Ministry of Textiles, Govt. Of India which invested a huge amount of INR 532.35 Lakhs for re-building the two reeling units and even machinery was renewed with the joining of semi-automatic power looms with Dobby, etc. If we talk about the capabilities of the factory, then it manufactures different quality materials, such as Chinon, Chiffon, IAL and Charmous in plain and prints, both!
8) Chinar Bagh:
When you talk about tourism scenes in Srinagar, Chinar Park is the newest member! It comprises an exciting list of kiosks, musical fountains, flowers, Chinar trees, an open-air theatre for amusing cultural programs plus the swings also make the Chinar Bagh, an absolute talk of the town. You can also savour the joys of swimming and camping here!
9) Gulshan Cafe:
You should definitely learn from Sheikh Ajad Ahmad about how to follow your passion and live your dreams! This man always dreamt of establishing bookstores for all avid book readers and setting up one near the alluring Dal Lake was finally fulfilled. Known as Gulshan Books Kashmir, if you are keenly interested in visiting this place, shikaras shall peacefully transport you there from the banks of the Dal lake. It also has a beautiful cafe and a reading room from where you can admire the dazzling views of the Dal Lake and Zabarwan Hills while you delve into the magical collection of about 80,000 books in the Nehru Park Island which is absolutely loved by the public.
Books ranging from the history of Kashmir to international affairs to numerous English classics are found here; you can read all you want to your heart's content. If you shift your gaze from the captivating books, you shall see its walls adorned with memoirs of the Dogra period of Kashmir. All the bookworms, here is your paradise!
10) Nigeen Lake:
It is initially derived from the word 'Nageena' which means 'the jewel in the ring'. 'Nigeen' is a local variant of the same word. This deep blue water lake is situated in an adjacent manner to the Hari Parbat hillock, lying to the west of the Dal Lake.
If you view its north and west sides, there lie the localities of Baghwanpora and Lal Bazar while placing the compass to the north-east shall detect the locality of Hazratbal, which is popular for the presence of a famous shrine. You can enjoy houseboat and shikara rides as well as water skiing, motor rides and sailing activities. Willow and poplar trees make the view all the more stunning.
People usually treat the Nigeen Lake as a comfortable vacationing spot. You shall soak in the heavenly beauty of Mother Nature. The best time to visit this lake is from May to September and the driving distance from the Dal Lake to Nigeen Lake is around 8 km. Hope to not get stuck in the tiring traffic!
And, you shall spot plenty of orange and blue clouds covering the sky like a shawl after the gorgeous sunset which shall definitely leave you breathless.