Srinagar's chief distinction is the great
body of water, the Dal Lake, which forms its
focal point. The Dal has, within its area,
two enormous sheet-like expanses of water - Lokutdal
and Boddal, the rest of its surface
being broken up alternatively by man-made
strips of land inhabited by whole colonies
of people and vegetation. Thus the lake is
not a flat, unbroken mass of water, but a
labyrinth of waterways, awash with a
lifestyle not encountered elsewhere in the
world. The Dal is Srinagar's major
life-support system with its wide variety of
marine life: fish, lotus roots, plants and
floating gardens. The hospitable boat people
of Kashmir trace their descent from Noah.
Entire families live on boats, accepting a
way of life that was bequeathed to them by
their ancestors and clinging stubbornly to
their traditional culture.
Water skiing in the Dal
The boat people of
Kashmir oar across Dal lake on a winter morning
Leading from the Dal
is the smaller Nagin Lake. Here too,
the waters are edged by trees of willow and
poplar whose reflection is mirrored in the
lake. 'Bathing boats' here, as well as on
the Dal, hire out water-skis and motor
launches. The waters of the lakes are
pleasantly cool from mid-May to
be hired from any of the steps called ghats
leading to the lake. Shikaras are a
refreshingly novel way of seeing Srinagar by
day; and at twilight, the gentle soothing
motion of the boat as it glides along the
water is unbelievably romantic.
and Pari Mahal: Terraced lawns,
cascading fountains, paint-box bright flower
beds with the panorama of the Dal in front
of them the three Mughal Gardens of Cheshmashahi,
Nishat and Shalimar are the
Mughal emperors' concept of paradise and are
today very popular places for picnics. Pari
Mahal, once the royal observatory, also
has a charmingly laid out garden and is a
five minute drive from Cheshmashahi.
Pari Mahal is surrounded
Every evening in the
summer a sound and light show at Shalimar
Gardens recreates the era of Emperor
Jehangir's court in Kashmir. Timings vary
slightly, but the first show is soon after
dark and there are two shows in Urdu and
Fort: To the west of the Dal lies the
Hari Parbat Hill, sacred to the Goddess Sharika
in whose honour a temple has been
consecrated on the western slopes of the
hill. Further up, on the crest of the hill
is Hari Parhat Fort which dates to
the 18th century.
Hari Parbat is
illuminated at night.
Nehru Park in the Dal
Shri Pratap Singh
Museum at Lal Mandi, on the banks
of the river Jhelum, ahead of Raj Bagh,
is a treasure trove of Kashmiri culture.
Golf Club in Srinagar.
The Shankracharya hill is in the background.
Temple: The antiquity of Shankaracharya
temple is akin to that of Vaishno Devi in
Jammu. The temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva,
has legends dating back to 200 BC. Built to
overlook the valley, situated atop the Hill
it has the devout climb the hill with
offerings in their hands, a motorable road
has been built leading to the TV Tower on
The sacred temple is
situated to the south east of Srinagar.
However, neither the hill nor the temple
retain their pre-historic names, Gopadari
and Jyeshtheswara respectively. The temple
is built on a high octagonal plinth
approached by a flight of steps.
History records that the first pilglimage to
Amarnath was undertaken in 1000 BC, though
little else is known of the antiquity of
Amarnath. Located 141 km from Srinagar, of
which 45 km from Pahalgam has to be trekked,
Amarnath is believed to be the holiest of
yatra is undertaken in July-August (Shravan)
and thousdads of devotees walk, some on
ponyback, to pay obeisance at the cave where
an ice-lingam, that of Shiva, waxes and
wanes with the moon. By its side are two
other ice lingams, those of Parvati, and
their son, Ganesha.
Sheshnag Lake, enroute to
Goddess Ragnya Devi is worshipped here,
symbolised by a sacred spring at Tula Mula
village, 27 km from Srinagar. In the centre
of the spring is a small marble temple and
the Hindu inhabitants of Srinagar fast and
converge at the spot on the eighth day of
the full moon in the month of May when
legend has it, the goddess changes the color
of the waters.
The shrine of Khir Bhawani.
Opposite the Rest House at Pahalgam, on the
right bank of river Lidder is a small
temple, now in ruins, dedicated to Lord
Shiva. The temple had an eight square feet
interior with a porch supported by two
fluted columns, one of which has now
weathered away. In fact, the suprastructure
is no longer there and even the ceiling no
longer exists. Inside the sanctum is a Shiva
A village by this name is a bare three miles
above Srinagar. It has a well-preserved
temple behind the willow grove on the left
hand side of the cart road. The ceiling of
the shrine is rated as the best example of
carving on stone in the entire valley.
Though ascribed to Vishnu or Shiva, the
seven square feet 'depression' in the centre
carries no deity, only carved 'yakshas'.
Pandrethan is one of the
few temples in Kashmir with roof intact.
Although miniature in
size, it is ornate with structural symmetry (10th
The appearance day of
Veth (Vitasta) is celebrated on Veth Truvah