Welcome to Kashmir- the paradise on Earth!!! Kashmir the paradise on earth is amazingly beautiful that no human language can interpret its magical beauty, charm, and splendor. Gifted with inviting natural beauty, snow-capped mountains, verdant woods, lush green surrounding, musical waterfalls, scenic lakes and interesting places of tourist interest, Kashmir is one of the most sought after holiday destinations in India.Kashmir beauty not only lies in its captivating natural beauty and sightseeing places but at the time the culture diversity, humble locals wearing smiles on their faces, blissful ambiance and on top the cool climatic conditions all enhance the beauty of Kashmir to give it truly a place close to “Heaven on Earth”. Kashmir has host of tourist places, pilgrimage destinations, places ideal for adventure sports and trekking as well as leisure vacation but on top its heavenly natural beauty lures thousands of people from across the globe to feel the real essence of nature.
Located in the Baramulla district of Kashmir, GULMARG which means “meadows of flowers” is one of the most beautiful hill resorts in the India. It is globally famous for its enigmatic natural beauty, captivating valleys and scintillating sightseeing spots that allures great number of visitors round the year. Gulmarg is located at the distance of 57kms from Srinagar and at the height of 2730 metres above the sea level. It is studded with inviting captivating and dazzling flowers, spectacular natural beauty, alluring valleys and tempting sightseeing. Besides these Gulmarg also acts as the trekking base for those who love to enjoy trekking to the exciting Pir Panchal Range, Nanga Parbat and Khilanmarg. Here you can explore and pay visit to so many other spots which include Apharwat Lake, Ziarat of Baba Reshi, Golf Courses, Gondola Lift, Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve and 18hole golf course.
Pahalgam is one of the most interesting places in Kashmir endowed with the superb and scintillating beauty of the nature. Located at the delightful confluence of the Liddar River and the streams coming out of the Sheshnag Lake, this picturesque Pahalgam valley is 96 kms away from Srinagar. Aru village is also in Phalgam with green meadows and inviting natural beauty.
Sonamarg is the heavenly spot, located at the altitude of 2730 metres at the distance of 81 kms from the sea level.It is also called meadows of Gold, famous THAJISWAS Glacier is in Sonamarg.
The Mugal Gardens
With terraced lawns, cascading fountains, paint-box-bright flowerbeds with the panorama of the Dal in front of them – the three Mughal Gardens of Chesmashahi, Nishat and Shalimar are the Mughal Emperors’ concept of paradise and are today very popular places for picnics and excursions.
Shalimar Bagh: Built by Emperor Jehangir for his wife Nur Jehan, Shalimar, 15 kms from the Tourists Reception Centre, is a beautiful garden with sweeping vistas over gardens and lakes, and shallow terraces. The garden is 539 meter by 182 meter and has four terraces, rising one above the other. A canal lined with polished stones and supplied with water from Harwan runs through the middle of the garden. The fourth terrace, by far the best, was once reserved for royal ladies.
Nishat Bagh: Situated on the banks of the Dal Lake, with the Zabarwan Mountains as its backdrop, (11 km. from Tourists Reception Centre), this ‘garden of bliss’ commands a magnificent view of the lake and the snow capped Pir Panjal mountain range which stands far away to the west of the valley. Nishat was designed in 1633 AD by Asaf Khan, brother of Nur Jehan.
Chashma Shahi: Chashma Shahi has tastefully laid garden in terraces, which commands a magnificent view of the Dal Lake below and surrounding mountain ranges. The cool water of the spring is highly refreshing and digestive. The original garden was laid out by Shah Jehan in 1632 AD.
Pari Mahal: Once the royal observatory, Pari Mahal has a charmingly laid out garden and is a five-minute drive from Cheshmashahi. A Buddhist monastery at one time, it was converted into a school of astrology by Dara Shikoh, Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan’s eldest son. Situated on the spur of a mountain overlooking the Dal, the ancient monument, with a well-laid spacious garden in front, is connected to Cheshmashahi by road. It is illuminated at night.
Harwan: On the hillside, south of the village of Harwan (19 kms from the Tourists Reception Center), remarkable remains of ancient ornamented tile pavements of the Buddhist period have come to light. The tiles depict the dresses of the people, such as loose trousers, Turkoman caps or close fitting turbans and large ear-rings which reveal Central Asian influence.
Temples and Shrines
Shankaracharya Temple: The sacred temple of Shankaracharya occupies the top of the hill known as Takht-I-Sulaiman in the south-east of Srinagar. The Saint Shankaracharya stayed at this place when he visited Kashmir ten centuries ago to revive Sanatan Dharma.
Hari Parbat Fort & Temple of Sharika Devi: The Mughal emperor’s fort crowns the top of Hari Parbat hill. There is little left of its former glory, but the ramparts are still impressive and the old apartments within the fort, even though in a state of ruin, still convey at least a little of the grandeur of the Mughals’ summer retreat in ‘paradise’. The hill is considered sacred to the Hindus due to the presence of temple of Sharika Devi, which is believed to be a form of Goddess Durga. The hill is surrounded by almond orchards, which make a lovely sight during April when the trees blossom, heralding the advent of spring in Kashmir.
Matan: Located atop a plateau, close to the township of Anantnag, has a temple dedicated to Lord Surya, the “Sun God”. Built by king Laitaditya Muktapida (7th to 8th century AD), it is a medieval temple with a colonnaded courtyard and the shrine in its centre. The temple complex has 84 columns and offers a commanding view of the valley of Kashmir.
Awantipur: Founded by Avantivarman who reigned Kashmir in the 9th century, this ancient township is 29 kms from Srinagar. The site has two imposing temples, the larger one of Lord Siva – Avantisvara is marked by huge walls, some half a mile beneath the town on the outskirts of village Jaubror. The subsidiary shrines are to the rear corner of the courtyard. Half a mile up is Avantisvami – Lord Vishnu temple.
Hazratbal Mosque: It is located on the banks of the Dal adjacent to the University. Its pristine white marble elegance is reflected in the waters of the lake. Hazratbal’s special significance is derived from the fact that it houses a holy relic of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH). This is displayed to the public on religious occasions. Apart from these occasions, Friday prayers are offered at Hazratbal and attended by throngs of people. Hazratbal is remarkable for being the only domed mosque in Srinagar; the others having distinct pagoda like roofs. The shrine – mosque complex is situated on the western shore of the Dal Lake opposite to Nishat Bagh and commands a grand view of the lake and the mountains beyond.
Jamia Masjid: The Jama Masjid at Nowhatta, in the heart of the old city, is the other important mosque in Srinagar at which thousands of people congregate for the Friday prayers. Of imposing proportions, the mosque is built around a courtyard and is supported by 370 wooden pillars. The hushed quiet of the mosque counterpoints the bustle of the old bazaars surrounding it. Originally built by Sultan Sikandar in 1400 AD, and enlarged by his son, Zain-ul- Abidin, it is a typical example of Indo-Saracenic architecture. Destroyed thrice by fire and rebuilt each time, the mosque, as it now stands, was repaired during the reign of Maharaja Pratap Singh.
Dal Lake: Srinagar’s distinctive feature is the great body of water, the Dal Lake, which forms its focal point. Shikaras can be hired from any of the steps called ‘ghats’ (jetties) 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.
Nagin Lake: 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.Nagin lake lies to the east of the city at the foot of the Zabarwan Mountain. The Shankaracharya hill (Takht-i-Sulaiman) is to the south and Hari Parbat on its west.
Wular Lake: It is difficult to describe in mere words the beguiling beauty of Wular Lake. For one, its formidable size – this is one of Asia’s largest fresh water lakes – for another, it changes character with every few miles.
Manasbal Lake: The drive from Srinagar will take you to the calm waters of Manasbal Lake, where there is no other sound but birdsongs. Manasbal has often been described as the bird watcher’s paradise, and as your shikara glides through this mirror of tranquillity, you will experience yet another facet of Kashmir.
Watlab: Gradually, the panoply of the ‘real Kashmir’, miles away from well-traversed areas, will unfold before you, and you will reach Watlab. Here, high on a hilltop is the shrine of a Muslim mystic, Baba Shukurddin. At Watlab there is a Forest Rest House amidst sprawling apple orchards.
Achabal: Once the pleasure retreat of Empress Nur Jehan, Achabal (1,677 m) has a fine garden in the Mughal style, with its own special charm and character. It was in Kashmir that the Mughal Garden was brought to perfection, and Achabal is one such masterpiece.Situated at the foot of a hill with a row of majestic chinars framing it, the Mughal garden is a visual delight with their stepped terraces, formal elegance, ornamental shrubs, sparkling fountains and falling water.
Daksum: Past the Mughal Gardens of Achabal, with their tinkling fountains, through the breathtaking splendour of the springs at Kokarnag, lies Daksum.Tucked away in a densely forested gorge at an altitude of 2438 m, Daksum would be completely silent but for the Bringhi river which gushes through it. It is a reviving experience -the bracing mountain air, the solitude, the densely clad hills, and beyond them, snow covered mountains, all contribute to Daksum’s mystique, making it the perfect retreat.
Kokernag: Situated in the heart of Bringhi valley, Kokernag (2,020 m, 70 kms from Srinagar), is set amidst sprawling gardens fragrant with the bloom of thousands of flowers. The Kokernag spring bubbles at seven places at the foot of the forested mountain. The water of the spring is famous for its medicinal and digestive properties.
Yusmarg: A two hour drive from Srinagar ( 47 kms ) will take you to acres upon acres of grassy meadow ringed by forests of pine, and towering beyond them, awesome and majestic snow clad mountains. This is Yusmarg- close enough to Srinagar. Further away, a captivating lake, Nilnag, is cradled by hills. Nearby are several peaks-Tatta Kutti and Sang Safed to name a couple of them.
Verinag: Located 80 kms from Srinagar at an altitude of 1,876 m, the spring of Verinag is believed to be the chief source of the river Jhelum. Construction of the octagonal base of the spring and the arcade around it was undertaken by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and completed during the reign of Shah Jahan. Down the stream to the east lie the remains of a Mughal pavilion and baths.