During the summer months, the capital of the Northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir moves to Srinagar in the Kashmir Valley near the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains.
Buddhism thrived in the region until the Mughals arrived in the 14th century from Persia conquering much of Northern India. The Mughal rulers left behind a plethora of Persian style gardens featuring pools and canals bisecting lush green spaces encased in low walls. Chesmashahi, Nishat, and Shalimar gardens provide panoramic views of the beautifully placid Dal Lake to the south of Srinagar.
The calm, mirror-like waters of Srinagar's Dal Lake are best known for the flotillas of brightly colored shikara boats that glide across the tranquil waters. The gondola-like boats are used for a variety of reasons like the transportation of goods to floating markets and taxi services for travelers on luxury tours of India. Dal Lake is also home to numerous elaborately decorated and furnished house boats that operate as luxury hotels, which are particularly popular among both Indian and international tourists, especially when the floating gardens (rad) of lotus flowers are blooming during the summer months.
The various religions and cultures that have ruled over the Jammu and Kashmir region of Northern India left behind numerous monuments, temples, and palaces to be explored while traveling in the area. The top of Hari Parbat Hill is a great example of the intersecting cultures and religions that have flowed through Srinagar over the centuries like the waters of Jhelum River that bisects the city. Hindu devotees believe their deities Vishnu and Durga summoned a demon from Dal Lake to the hill, and defeated the mythical beast so humans could populate the area. Followers of Islam climb the same hill to offer prayers at Makhdoom Sahib Shrine, which is dedicated to a Muslim saint who brought the teachings of Islam to the Kashmir Valley. An imposing Mughal fort crowns the hilltop, and though its current inaccessible to the public, it’s particularly stunning at night when lit.
Best Time to Visit Srinagar:
The best time to visit Srinagar is between October and March. The temperatures steadily rise between April and June, but the climate here is much cooler than plains to the south because of the elevation. Seasonal rains start in July and continue through September, and it’s during this time that the many gardens are at their most beautiful.
How to get to Srinagar:
Srinagar is the capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It can be reached by direct flight from Delhi.
The stunning waters of Lake Dal and the festive multicolored shikara boats that glide through the placid waters are a favored sight for guests on our India tours. The stunning Mughal gardens along Lake Dal’s shore and the throngs of floating lotus gardens on the lake surface are a must-see while visiting Srinagar.
Long sleeves and pants are recommended while visiting Srinagar. Though the area is rarely cold, it can feel particularly brisk, especially when coming to the region from the warmer reaches of Northern India.