The scenic splendor of Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir
has attracted people since time immemorial. The city has
mesmerized the Mauryans, the Mughals, the Sikhs and the
British over the course of history. Set against the
backdrop of the Himalayan mountains at a height of 1730
m on the banks of river Jhelum, Srinagar is a dream
destination for many travellers.
The city of lakes nestles in the heart of one of the loveliest areas of the country, The Kashmir Valley. Srinagar spreads on the both sides of the river Jhelum the valley's beauty has enticed visitors from distant lands. Srinagar bears hallmark of the mughals, splendid formal gardens laid out by the mughal emperors for their enjoyment are beautifully maintained. Houseboats on the lake- the British solution to the law that prevented them from owning landed property are an exciting alternative to the more traditional hotels. Srinagar is also the take off point for some of the Kashmir's hill stations and a base for the varieties of activities that range from trekking, mountaineering, fishing, golfing and skiing.
Dal Lake and Houseboats
Indeed, the Dal Lake, is the center of activities in Srinagar. Houseboats that dot the lake came about as a result of a pre-Independence law that prohibited the British from owning land. Today, these houseboats have become the biggest tourist attraction of Kashmir. Like hotels, houseboats have several categories - from luxury to ones that barely stay afloat - and spending a night on a houseboat is a must when you're in Srinagar. Do not book a houseboat in advance, see it for yourself before you pay and get a clear idea (ideally get the owner to write it all down for you) of how much every single thing you buy/do on the houseboat will cost you.
Shrines & Mosques
The old city also boasts of Kashmir's many ancient shrines and mosques among which the shrine of Shah-i-Hamdan, situated between Habba Kadal and Fateh Kadal, is probably the most important. Shah-i-Hamdan, who came from Persia in the 13th century, was responsible for the spread of Islam in Kashmir. Khanqah-i-Mualla, on the banks of the Jhelum, was the very spot where Shah-i-Hamdan used to offer prayers. Upon his death, a shrine, ornately decorated with papier-mache on the walls and ceiling, was built in his memory. Makhdoom Sahib, Patthar Masjid, Jama Masjid and Pir Dastagir are the major mosques and shrines in the old city. Tourists are welcome to visit the mosques and shrines in the old city. There are a few points to be kept in mind in accordance with the sanctity of these places. Women are not allowed into the inner sanctum of shrines, but there is no such restriction in the case of mosques. Shoes must be taken off at the entrance. Jamia Masjid charges a fee for photography. Visitors are expected to conform to certain regulations in the matter of dress - no skimpy tops, shorts or short skirts are allowed.