Dal Lake photo via Shutterstock
By Pawan Kotiyal
The summer capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and one of the top hill stations in the country, Srinagar is a traveler’s delight. Atop of Srinagar lies the placid-looking, magnetic Dal Lake — the ace up its sleeve, this region intrigues the traveler with the many fascinating tales through its time-honored customs, traditions, rituals, and architecture. Srinagar was also once a favorite destination among Bollywood filmmakers, with many hit movies showcasing the amazing beauty of the land and how it has managed to preserve the old-world charm of yesteryears. But it is not always the most frequented destinations that leave an indelible imprint on the travelers mind, as there are other lesser known names that can spring a surprise and leave you thrilled.
Here we bring you a list of some of these less famous places of Srinagar that should be visited by every tourist:
Also known as the Jyesteshwara temple or Pas-Pahar among Buddhists and Takht-e-Sulaiman (Throne of Solomon) among Muslims, the Shankaracharya Temple is the perfect embodiment of religious sanctity and devotion. Perched atop the Zabarwan Mountain, the temple is dedicated to Hindu God Shiva and overlooks the city of Srinagar. The origins of the temple can be traced back to 200 BC and got its name from its association with Adi Shankara, the foremost of all Hindu philosophers and theologians.
Visiting hours: All days of the week between 7 am and 8 pm.
Tomb of budshah Photo via Shutterstock
Famous gardens of the city:
There are many well-manicured gardens dating back to the time of the Mughals which give visitors a sense of the nobles’ extravagant taste –be it the stunning vistas that surround the place or the blooming flowers whose aroma nauseates you:
Shalimar Bagh: Built by Emperor Jehangir as a gift for his wife in 1619; you can almost feel the love the Emperor had for his wife lingering in the garden.
Nishat Garden: Another majestic garden built by the same emperor abutting the Dal Lake.
Other popular gardens include Pari Mahal and the Botanical gardens.
Located right next to the Dal Lake, Chilli Point is a great place to enjoy some relaxing moments. One amazing sight that you can get from here is the view of the Dal Lake with the Shankaracharya Temple as the perfect backdrop. It is the starting point of shikara rides and is just the perfect place to laze around soaking in the amazing vista around you. There is no dearth of restaurants, so dig into some delicious seekh kababs, corns, and many other local delicacies here.
Photo via Sandeepachetan
Located in Bandipora district, it ranks amongst the largest fresh water lakes in Asia. If you are an adventure buff, it is the place to be as it hosts a number of boating, water sports, and water ski events. Being an important fish habitat, Wular Lake also hosts a number of rare fish species like Common carp, rosy, and mosquito fish. The lake also provides livelihood to approximately 8,000 fishermen.
Apple Orchard/Saffron Farm:
Nearly 80 percent of apples that flood the markets of India, Bangladesh and Nepal have one common source: Jammu and Kashmir. Large tracts of land or big firms are kept aside for the cultivation of this fruit, and visiting one of them would be a great way to understand the psyche of the people and the livelihood of Srinagar. Kashmir Golden Apple is the most popular apple variety from Srinagar. As for saffron, which is the most expensive spice in the world, some of the finest quality is produced here.
Hokersar wetland is a hotbed of migratory birds, which come in the thousands from as far as Siberia and other regions during the winters. These migratory birds make the wetlands, their temporary home between the months of September and October and also for a brief period in spring. The wetlands are of great ecological significance considering that it sustains a variety of wintering, staging, and breeding birds.
If these off-the-beaten-track destinations leave you asking for more, head to the famous Dal Lake and enjoy the amazing sunset; it would be a great way to bring the curtains down on a very fulfilling tour of Srinagar.
About the author:
Pawan Kotiyal is an avid traveller, who likes to trudge to far-flung and lesser-explored destinations in India. Trekking and photography keeps him busy while he is out exploring the unknown destinations. He also likes to pen his travelling experience in order to help those with similar interest in travelling, trekking and photography.