Kashmir, the name itself sparks a picture of a valley covered in lush green fields, nestled by the large mountains on the banks of the Jhelum river. Srinagar is the capital of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Srinagar is known to be the “Heaven on earth”. The city of Srinagar is centered around the mesmerizing Dal lake. The land of Srinagar is full of the old architecture of the Mughal era.
This is one of the most sought-after places to visit among the Indians. Srinagar is a perfect place to enjoy their romantic honeymoon as well as with their friends and family. Here I will be listing the best things to do in Srinagar to make your vacation awesome.
Staying in a houseboat
If you are in Srinagar, you just can’t miss spending a night on a houseboat. People around the globe cherish this experience while they visit Kashmir. Houseboats are wooden large size boats with artifacts decorated with handicrafts to melt your heart. These boats have rooms, washrooms, and many other amenities like you would find in a nice apartment. These boats remain stationary( unlike the houseboats in Alleppy) in the middle of the lakes in Srinagar.
You will have to take a Shikara ride to reach your houseboat.
You can enjoy your stay in a houseboat on either Dal lake or Nigeen lake. More houseboats can be seen on Dal lake and many people opt to stay there. Dal lake is also one of the biggest ways of transport in Srinagar. So, you will find a lot of Shikaras and small boats ferrying items on the lake. At times, they get a little crowded and you may not be able to enjoy the vastness of Dal lake in full beauty.
Those who like to spend a good time alone in a quiet place in a houseboat can opt to stay in Nigeen lake. This lake is less crowded with not as many houseboats and ferry boats are far-fetched here. So, people who are looking for a romantic honeymoon in Srinagar can have their stay here.
These houseboats are very costly and take a lot of time in making and repairing. The cost of a houseboat can go as much as 10 crores. The cost of staying in a houseboat may vary from as low as 1000/- to 15000/- per night. Usually, the houseboats provide you with dinner and breakfast for your convenience.
Now before you decide to stay spend a night on a houseboat, there are a few things you must know upfront.
- You should always go prepared in the houseboats because you are not going to be living on land where you would find things easily. You would have to take a Shikara and go to the market nearby.
- Apart from that, you would not find any Shikara generally after 8 pm and before 7 am. So, if you are planning to go for a morning ride plan accordingly and book your Shikara a day ahead.
- Also, you should be careful about drinking water in houseboats, and it’s better if you opt for mineral water.
But, staying in a houseboat is one of the must-do activities in Srinagar. You will feel the charm of Kashmir on a cold chilly night in Kashmir. The best time to stay on a houseboat is in March-June. In winter, the Dal lake gets frozen and communication becomes difficult.
Shikara ride in Dal lake
Some things symbolize a place and, Shikara is one such thing that symbolizes Srinagar. These small covered boats floating around the lakes in Srinagar possess the charm and romanticism of Srinagar. What’s better than relaxing on one of these Shikaras with your partner and moving around Dal Lake?
A shikhara is a small wooden boat driven by a boatman. In a shikhara usually, 4-5 people can be accommodated apart from the boatman. They are ever so comfortable with padded cushions and blankets in cold weather. It truly feels like heaven. I was feeling like a king just roaming around the lake in the early morning while watching the Sunrise. This was truly a mesmerizing experience. 2-3 hours of Shikara ride would cost you around 1200-1500 INR.
Shikara ride is one of the most enthralling things in Kashmir, but be a little cautious as you will be approached by a lot of ferry boats. Before you deal with them you should know this.
Sunrise in Dal lake
Watching the sun rising from behind the mountain is always a pleasure to our eyes. Now, wouldn’t that be even better if we can enjoy that while floating around the tranquil water of Dal Lake? We definitely would. To enjoy the Sunrise you would have to book a Shikara for yourself a day before. As I have already told you that You won’t get a Shikara easily in the early morning unless you book one a day before.
It should cost you around 1000-1500 INR. You will have to start from your houseboat as early as 5-5.30 AM. Believe me, this would be worth your money and effort.
Visit the floating vegetable market
Like every other thing in Srinagar, there is a floating vegetable market that is unique in many aspects. This market operates early in the morning and gets over by 7 a.m. Local inhabitants of Dal lake go for their daily shopping from this floating vegetable market. Various sellers on their ferries sell fruits, vegetables, and flowers on their little canoes. Many tourists come to watch this unique market in operation in the backwaters of Dal lake.
This visit to the floating vegetable market is also a part of your early morning expedition to see the sunrise. In my opinion, this is a must-do thing in Srinagar because this will give you an idea of their lifestyle and how much they love this age-old tradition. You should not miss this one.
Visit the Mughal gardens of Srinagar
Srinagar is also known for its numerous Mughal gardens built in the era of the Mughals. These gardens are one the best places to visit in Srinagar. The architecture of these gardens will amaze you. Mughal kings built them as a symbol of excellence and love. It follows a special Persian architecture of gardens.
There are quite a few outstanding Mughal gardens like – Pari Mahal, Chasme Shahi, Nishat Bagh, Shalimar Bagh, and many more. You must visit them. The architecture, as well as the flowering trees, will touch you. From the top of Pari Mahal, you will get a full view of Dal Lake and a major part of Srinagar city.
You can hire a cab for a full day and roam around all the Mughal gardens around the city.
Enjoy Tulip festival
Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden, previously known as Shiraj bagh is known for its unparalleled beauty of Tulip gardens. It is the largest tulip garden in Asia, spread across 30 hectares around the Mughal gardens in Srinagar. Srinagar is one of the rarest places in India where you can find blooming tulip gardens. In European countries like the Netherlands, and Germany you can enjoy colorful gardens full of tulips. So, you can understand why this place gives vibes like the European tulip gardens.
Though it does not remain open throughout the year. The tulip garden opens in the last week of March for tourists and remains open for a month during April when almost 60 varieties of bloom are at their full potential.
During November around 15 lac, Tulips are planted which bloom during the spring season. The special tulip saplings are brought from Holland. And it is a sight to behold. It is the peak season to travel to Srinagar. And the tulip garden accounts for more than 2 lac of tourists every year.
Enjoy swimming in Nigeen Lake
Nigeen lake is smaller than Dal lake. But as it is not as commercialized as Dal Lake the water is much cleaner. So, people like to go swimming in the tranquil water of Nigeen lake. But you should be aware of the coming ferries and Shikaras while swimming.
Go shopping at Lal Chowk
Lal Chowk is one of the most famous and biggest markets in Srinagar. There you will find various eateries, handicrafts stores, Dry fruit stores, and much more. You can collect some souvenirs, and gift items from markets in Lal Chowk. You can buy handloom shawls, pashminas, walnut wood carvings, paper mache handicrafts, carpets, Kashmiri willow cricket bats, saffron, walnut, pistachio, etc. But always be sure to bargain in Kashmir.
You can get the full list of items you can buy in Kashmir.
Visit Meena Bazar/ floating market on Dal lake
Meena Bazar is a floating market on the inner side of Dal lake. While you will be exploring the allies of Dal lake the Shikara will take you there. You can get down the little wooden shops floating on the lake. You will find various types of shops selling Pashmina, Shawls, wooden handicrafts, paper mache artworks, carpets, jackets, and much more.
But, one thing I would like to let you know is that you should not buy any costly products like carpets, and pashminas from Meena Bazar. You might be thinking that I am discriminating but I am not. Most of the products you would find there are overpriced and many of them are fake. You would find those products elsewhere very cheaply.
Eat amazing Kashmiri cuisines
Srinagar is not a land of beauty, it is also famous for the outstanding Kashmiri cuisines. Kashmiri Wazwaan is cooked with a lot of effort and care and it demands you to indulge in the delicious Kashmiri dishes. You must eat this in Kashmir.
Kashmir also offers various delicious street foods. You will have various delicious kebabs, Kulfi -Faluda, and the famous Kashmiri Kehwa.
Visit Sankaracharya temple
Shankaracharya Temple is one of the notable places for Hindu pilgrims. On top of the Zabarwan hill ranges the temple of Lord Shiva is established. During the Amarnath yatra, many pilgrims pay a visit to this holy place.
To reach this place you would have to climb 243 steps. So, plan accordingly. Mobiles and cameras are not allowed inside the temple.
From the top of the hill, you can get a good view of Dal lake and the city of Srinagar. So, if you have time and want to visit the temple you should do.
Visit the world’s only floating Post Office
Do you know there is only one floating post office in the whole world? And that is in Srinagar, floating on the bed of Dal lake. This floating post office in Srinagar is in service for over 200 years now, serving the community around the outlets of Dal lake. Before 2011, this post office was named the Nehru Park post office.
This post office is in operation since the British era. This is indeed a heritage property of the highest significance. This place is now also converted into a museum cum post office with collectibles from the earlier years. The letters are delivered by the postman on a Shikara. Isn’t that great?
Visit Hazratbal Mosque
Hazratbal shrine is the holiest Dargah in Srinagar. It is situated on the left side of Dal lake.
It was built in the 1600s by Inayat Begum. In 1634 Mughal emperor Shah Jahan ordered to turn it into a prayer hall.
This is the only mosque in Srinagar which is dome-shaped. All other shrines in Srinagar are Pagoda-shaped. The outer marble structure was built later in
From Dargah, you can get a good view of Dal lake and Nigeen lake.
Trek to Hari Parbat Fort top
Hari Parbat is situated on the western side of Dal lake looking over the city of Srinagar. On top of Hari Parbat, the Hari Parbat Fort was built by Mughal emperor Akbar in 1590. Though the fort was completed by Afghan governor Atta Mohammad Khan in 1808. It is one of the heritage sites of Srinagar and is now looked after by the Archeological Survey of India.
You can take a small hike to the hilltop starting from the southern side of the mountain and pass through the Gurdwara Chatti Patshahi to the Makhdoom Shahib Shrine. From the top of the fort, you will get a very good view of the city and the lakes.
Walk down the banks of the Jhelum river
Jhelum river flows across the city of Srinagar and it is one of the main sources of water. Jhelum river brings melted icy cold water from Vernag. Due to a lack of rain in Kashmir usually, the water level of the Jhelum remains low. You can walk down the banks of Jhelum exploring through the city of Kashmir.
You can visit Zero bridge, Kashmir Art emporium, and have a bit of shopping or enjoy a good time while walking with friends.
Manasbal Park walk
Manasbal Park is located near Manasbal lake. You can enjoy the view of the lake from the Manasbal park and Lake viewpoint. You can enjoy the view of the Zabarwan range of mountains and the beauty of the park while walking through it. You watch the group of birds flying over the park while taking a walk.
Chasme Sahi garden’s natural spring
Chasme Shahi garden is also one of the famous Mughal gardens. You should visit this garden while in Kashmir. What is special about this garden? In the center of the garden, there is a natural source of spring water flowing through the middle of the garden. This pure source is so pure and clean that you can even drink it. The source of water flows from a molten glacier that passes through the garden. During winter though the stream gets frozen.
Visit Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden
On the foothills of the Zabarwan range beside Dal lake, the Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical garden is located. This park was established in 1969 in memory of Jawaharlal Nehru, the former prime minister of India.
This garden is decorated beautifully with various flowering plants, walnut trees, and different types of Orchids. This garden has 1.5 lacs of ornamental plants and more than 300 breeds of flora. Around the part of the garden, you can ride paddle boats on Dal Lake.
Srinagar is the heart of Kashmir. And there is so much to do in Srinagar. From staying in a houseboat to watching the sunrise in a Shikara, walking through the Mughal gardens are awesome experiences to have. You just cannot miss out on them. So, just get ready and get a foot outside.