Saturday, August 20, 2011

Explore Kashmir: Srinagar

Panoramic view of Srinagar
After we completed our trekking trip in Kashmir, we had a few days left to spend in Srinagar, before returning back to Goa.

Aside from relaxing in a houseboat on the Dal Lake, we also took this time to explore some of the interesting places in Srinagar. Srinagar is famous for its Mughal gardens. These gardens were built by the Mughal kings, who used to travel here during summer, to escape the hot weather of Delhi.

The first garden we visited was the Shalimar Garden. This was the summer residence of Emperor Jehangir.

Shalimar Garden

Fountains in Shalimar Garden.
All of the Mughal gardens that we visited (including the Shalimar Garden) have one common design. Spring water is trapped a little high up on the mountain side, and then released through a series of slowly descending terraces. Water is released through pipes at each level, and the opening in the pipes creates natural water fountains. It is really an ingenious architectural marvel.

Wide-angle view of Shalimar Fountains.
Sadly, due to unstable security situation in the region, and the resulting lack of tourists, these gardens are not really well maintained.

Damaged pipes that create the natural fountains at Shalimar.
Even without proper maintenance, the garden still has a wide variety of flowers growing.

Flowers in Shalimar Garden
More flowers
Another beautiful flower.
One thing about Srinagar at this time of the year (June-July) is that it is full of greenery. Flowers grow everywhere, even on the road side.

Wild flowers growing on the road side.
Close-up of wild flowers.
The cool and lush weather is also conducive to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, especially apples. It seems like every house has an apple orchard.

A type of Kashmiri Apple
An apple about to ripen.
A random image I shot in the garden.
Another famous garden that we visited is the Chashme Shahi. This garden is a bit high up in the mountains and is named after the source of its spring. The water from the spring here is supposed to be full of healthy minerals. We were told that the water from this spring used to be shipped everyday to Jawaharlal Nehru, when he was the Prime Minister of India. Not sure how far that story is true.

Chashme Shahi garden, in the shadows of the Himalayan mountains.
Very close to the Chashme Shahi garden is Pari Mahal. Once a Buddhist monastery, it was later on converted to a school for astrology, by the Mughals. Pari Mahal provides a panoramic view of Dal Lake, and is a beautiful place to just sit and relax.

Pari Mahal.
View of Golf Course and the Dal Lake - from Pari Mahal.
The 3rd royal garden we visited was the Nishat Garden. Like the other gardens, it uses the same concept of terraces to create natural water fountains.

Nishat Garden
Our final visit was to Shankaracharya Temple. This temple sits on top of the mountain overlooking the whole of Srinagar (about1000 meters above Dal Lake). Unfortunately, cameras are not allowed inside the temple. On the way down, I saw a small opening in the forest that allowed me to take some nice panoramic shots of Dal Lake.

Sikharas and house boats in the calm Dal Lake.
A 3-shot panorama that you can zoom into.

Conclusion: If you want to escape the summer, there is no better place than Srinagar. I only hope that the security situation in the region improves soon - so that more people get to visit and enjoy this place. 


Smriti said...


I'd like to use one of your photographs of Kashmir to promote tourism in J&K. Kindly grant permission for the same.


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