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An evening at Dal Lake

Srinagar – A Travel Guide to Kashmir’s capital

Kashmir is a place that has always fascinated me in pictures and stories since childhood. When the time came to explore Kashmir, I was all set with my bags packed days before the journey started. We landed at Srinagar on a sunny afternoon in the month of July where even the sun was setting after 8 pm. I knew that my Kashmir exploration expedition can’t get any better, getting longer days to roam around the city. This post “Srinagar – A Travel Guide to Kashmir’s capital” talks about things to do in Srinagar in 3 days.

Nishat Garden in Srinagar
Nishat Garden in Srinagar

Where to stay?

I stayed near Dal Gate, Raj Bagh, and in a boat house in Dal Lake. Few of my friends stayed near Lal Chowk and Nigeen lake. Hotel Suggestions
Hotel Rose Petal
Lee Heritage
Walisons Hotel
The Shelter Heritage A Boutique Hotel and Hostel ( it is quite far from touristy places within the city)

Boat House Suggestions

Luxury Inn Badyari Palace Houseboat
Goona Palace Houseboat (The only issue I had when I stayed here was, after I rated the houseboat an 8 on Booking.com, the owner called me and asked me to change it to 10 which I obviously didn’t do.)

Where to eat?

I found veg restaurants near Dal Gate and almost all the hotels and houseboats provided vegetarian food when asked for. Kashmir is heaven for non-vegetarians. ?
Tip: When you are in Kashmir, kahwa is something that you wouldn’t want to miss.
Ahdoos restaurant was suggested to me by many but unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to visit.

How to commute?

I commuted using an auto rickshaw within the city and took cabs when I wanted to visit Pahalgam and Gulmarg.
We spent around Rs. 2200 to roam Srinagar in an auto-rickshaw for 2 days. I felt it was worth it because the auto-rickshaw driver used to wait for hours patiently while we visited places.

Ayub auto
Ayub Bhai is the one who helped us roam around in Srinagar

Weather in Srinagar

April to September – Summer – 16° to 35° C
October to March – Winter – 0° to 15° C
Due to Srinagar’s natural location, there is no definite monsoon season. The rains are unpredictable.

I visited Srinagar in July and August 2021, and it was relatively hot during the days and pleasant during the evenings. It even rained heavily for a day or two during my trip.

Clothes to wear

In Summer
Jeans, trousers, t-shirts, scarf/shawl, woollens (for the evening), umbrella, raincoat
Note: I can’t stress how important it is to carry scarf/shawl because it is mandatory for women to wear it when entering mosques in Srinagar.

In Winter
Thermals, jeans, full sleeve sweaters, woollen socks, cap, jackets, shawls and mufflers or neck warmers.
Note: You can buy pheran (Kashmiri attire) and wear it anywhere in Kashmir?

Places to visit (Places I visited)

Dal Lake

A whole day can be spent in the Dal lake itself when you are at leisure. There are many things to do in the lake, one of which is the hour long shikara ride during sunset. A shikara can accommodate 4+1 people.

At around 5am, there is a floating vegetable market that can be visited and it will be available only during that time. There is a floating market where you can find multiple shops on the lake, taking a shikara is the only way to reach the market.

vegetable vendor at Dal Lake
Vendor selling veggies at Dal Lake
nehru park library
Nehru park with restaurant, coffee shop and library

There is a library/book store, coffee shop, restaurant and garden in the middle of the lake, very close to Ghat 13. You can spend hours at the library reading or purchasing books. Don’t forget to visit the Floating Post Office near Ghat 13 😀

Mughal Gardens

There are umpteen number of gardens in Kashmir which are stunningly beautiful. All the gardens are built in Iranian style and architecture, built in the 1600s. I visited only the most famous ones during my visit. You will notice families with kids picnicking in the gardens.

Shalimar
Shalimar Bagh

Timings: 9.30 am – 6.30 to 8 pm (closing time varies)
Ticket: Rs.24/- (Adult) and Rs.12/- (Child)
Note: The garden closing time depends on when the sun sets. In July the sunset was at 8 pm and hence we were in the gardens till 8 pm.

I visited Pari Mahal, Chashme Shahi, Nishat Bagh and Shalimar Bagh.
Click here to read my blog post on my experience at these Mughal Gardens in detail.

Shankaracharya Temple

It is said that Adi Shankaracharya wrote the most famous “Saundarya Lahari” when he was here. We climbed around 250 steps to reach the shrine. The temple was constructed at various phases by various kings.

Sankaracharyar temple Srinagar
Bird’s eye view of Srinagar while descending from the hills of Sankaracharyar temple

This is the place where we got a bird’s eye view of the entire city of Srinagar which was stunningly beautiful. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take phones or cameras since the Indian Army was stationed at the temple. There was thorough checking before we were allowed to enter the temple premises. We had to hand over our phones and cameras to the Indian Army.

Zeeshta Devi Mandir

This temple was on the Pari Mahal road but on the other side of the hill. There was a small temple with guest rooms to stay. There was nothing else there apart from that. We stayed there for 5-10 mins and returned.

Jamia Masjid

This is the biggest mosque in Kashmir valley, located in downtown Srinagar. The mosque was constructed and renovated in different centuries by different kings. It has also been subject to damage by fire during Aurangazeb’s reign.

Jama Masjid Srinagar
Jama Masjid Srinagar

The masjid has a magnificent courtyard with 350+ pillars. It was massive. I had never been to a mosque that was as big as Jamia Masjid. It can accommodate 30,000+ people at once. During festivals, people from all over the world are said to visit this masjid.

Jama Masjid
Walking inside Jama Masjid premises

Hazratbal Dargah

This is one of the most famous Dargahs in the world. According to local beliefs, the Shrine houses the sacred hair of Prophet Muhammad’s beard. When I visited Hazaratbal which was also on the banks of Dal Lake, it was a Friday and there were many women praying in the outer hall.

Hazratbal shrine
Hazratbal Shrine

Gurudwara Chati Pat Shahi

This is one of the most revered Sikh pilgrimage sites in Kashmir.

Srinagar Gurudwara
Gurudwara

Shah-E-Hamdan

I hadn’t seen a mosque that is as vivacious as Shah-E-Hamdan. I still remember the vivid colors, wall paintings, pigeons and wonderful people when I think of it. It was located on the banks of River Jhelum.

Shah-e-hamdan birds
Shah-E-Hamdan
Aarthy Shah-e-hamdan
Happy me at Shah-E-Hamdan

Shopping in Srinagar

Kashmir is known for its carpets, woollens, pashmina shawls, saffron, dry fruits, spices, rajma, woodwork, crafts and much more.

I have a habit of collecting souvenirs at whichever place I go, and I found a one stop shop called Kashmir Art Centre which had everything I had in my mind to buy.
Note: You will find many shopkeepers selling items in Dal Lake at a premium to tourists. Most often it’s a rip off and the products may not even be genuine.

There are many markets in Srinagar like Lal Chowk, Residency Road, Badshah Chowk, Polo View Market and Raghunath Bazaar.

Kashmir means a lot of things to me, and Srinagar was a place which I felt it welcomed everyone who respected and accepted the place, people and their livelihood.
Click here to read my other travel tales from Kashmir.

Aarthy in Dal Lake
Soaking into the beauty of the lake

Aarthy Chinnaiya

Hola, you travel-prying soul! Welcome to my blog and thanks for stopping by! My name is Aarthy Chinnaiya, exploring new places, food and people gets me excited. I focus on budget travel and exploring places to the fullest in limited number of days (being a Software Engineer I don't get much leaves you see :P). Follow me for a constant dose of my travel stories, experiences, tips and much more.

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