The Dal Lake which has the length of 8 Km long and a width of 4 Km, spreads over a total of 26 Sq. Km. Popular as the jewel in the crown of Kashmir, the Dal Lake is the most famous and most visited lake in the state. Lined with Mughal-era gardens, the lake is rich in lotus, water lillies and water chestnuts. It is among those major destinations that let you free to enjoy life on water in the houseboats. One can have the pleasure of Shikara rides, kayaking, canoeing and other water activities in the Dal. Surrounded by mountains on three sides, the lake gives a paradisiacal view when frozen in winter.
Gulmarg is one of the most splendid hill resorts in the country, falling in the Baramulla Distt of Kashmir. Initially, Gulmarg of Kashmir used to known by the name of "Gaurimarg", by the shepherds pasturing their herds. However, the present name of this hill resort dates back to the 16th century. Sultan Yusuf Shah, impressed with the stunning spectacle of the grassy hills adorned with colorful flowers, gave the name of "Gulmarg" to this beautiful hill station. Gulmarg hill station also served as the preferred rendezvous of the Mughal Emperor Jehangir. It is said that the emperor once collected 21 different varieties of flowers from here. Gulmarg hill resort boasts of not only picturesque locales, but also of the highest golf course in the world. Situated at a height of 2,650 m, Gulmarg golf course is one of the major attractions of the awesome hill station.
At an altitude of 2,130m and about 95-km from Srinagar, Pahalgam is probably the most popular hill resort in the Kashmir valley. Since it is rather lower than Gulmarg the nighttime temperatures do not drop so low and it has the further advantage of the beautiful Lidder River running right through the town. Pahalgam is situated at the junction of the Aru and Sheshnag Rivers and surrounded by soaring, fir-covered mountains with bare, snow-capped peaks rising behind them. The Aru flows down from the Kolahoi glacier beyond Lidderwat while the Sheshnag from glaciers along the great Himalayan. At the confluence of the streams flowing from the river Lidder and Sheshnag Lake, Pahalgam was once a humble shepherd's village with breathtaking views.
Sonmarg is the last stop of Kashmir District.From here starts the territory of Ladakh. Situated at an altitude of 2743 m above sea level, Sonmarg is absolutely true to its name, which means 'Meadow of Gold'. The moment you enter Sonmarg, the first thing that you will notice will be the snow-covered mountain that forms the backdrop of the town. Covered with alpine trees from all sides, Sonmarg has few of the most loveliest flower collection in J & K. In winters though, the town is covered with snow giving it an altogether different charm of white. The town has become famous for the many excursion option that it offers, mainly short walks and trek routes to nearby stunning areas. The most famous trek is definitely the one that takes you to Amarnath caves. In fact Baltal which is just besides Sonmarg, is used as a base camp for starting the holy Amarnath yatra.Sonmarg in itself is a beautiful place full of natural grace and gifts.
Shalimar was built by Emperor Jehangir for his wife Nur Jahan, in 1616. Covering a lush green area of 540 by 183 metres, the garden offers a wonderful view of the Dal Lake and the nearby hills. It is an excellent piece of Mughal architectural art as well. The garden has a canal in the center, which was used as a source of water supply. The magnificent upper terraces used be reserved for the emperor and the ladies. Black stone and black marble is used at several places including the pavilion and pillars.Other attractions of the Shalimar Bagh of Kashmir include a number of fountains, shaded trees and innumerable varieties of flowers that blossom in spring and autumn.
Nishat Bagh or "The garden of bliss". The garden boasts of being the largest one of the Mughal gardens in Kashmir. Located about 11 km from the Srinagar city, the garden is popular for its unique location that offers a splendid view of the Dal Lake, as well as the snow capped Pir Panjal mountain range, with the famous Zabarwan Mountains as its backdrop. The Nishat Garden was laid out by Asif Khan, the brother of Mughal Empress Nur Jehan, in 1633.
Pari Mahal was initially a garden founded by Dara Shiko, Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan's eldest son for his Sufi teacher, Mulla Shah. Once dotted with numerous springs, which have dried up now, the Pari Mahal gardens are now the treasure possession of the state. Pari Mahal is bedazzling with radiant lights at night, and though located on the spur of a hill, can he seen from most places in Srinagar. Pari Mahal, once a Buddhist monastery, was converted into a school of astrology by Dara Shikoh. Pari Mahal gardens are now fully maintained by the state government. The place is enriched with a number of fascinating fountains.
At Chashmashai, is a 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. TRC Srinagar free of cost to visit the permits can be had from the infromation Counter Chashma Shahi Garden. Permits can be had from the infromation counter.
The sacred temple of Shankaracharya occupies the top of the hills known as Takht-I-Sulaiman in the south-east of Srinagar. The site dates back to 250BC. The philosopher Shankaracharya stayed at this place when he visited Kashmir ten centuries ago to revive Sanatan Dharma. Before this date, the temple was known as Gopadri, as an earlier edifice on the same site was built by king Lalitaditya in the 6th century AD. The temple is of great importance, not only from the point of view of religion, but also from architectural viewpoint. A high octagonal platform supports the temple, approached by a flight of approximately hundred steps. The sidewalls of the steps once bore some valuable inscriptions.There is also a Persian inscription inside the temple, dating back to Emperor Shahjahan's rule.
Amarnath Cave situated on the Mount Amarnath, derives its name from the Mount Amarnath. The Amarnath Cave are at the height of 5,486 m, where it is located nearly at height of 4000 m. Because of this height, the cave is covered with snow for most of the year. Only for a short period in summer, the entrance is accessible. The cave is an ice cave, it contains a certain amount of ice stalagmites. The Amarnath Cave is a holy place for Hindu pilgrims. One very characteristic pilar of ice is believed to be an ice lingham, the phallic symbol of Lord Shiva. Two smaller ice stalagmite represent Parvati, his wife, and Ganesha, his son.
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 Nishat Bagh and commands a grand view of the lake and the mountain beyond. This is displayed to the public on religious occasions, usually accompanied by fairs. Apart from these occasions, Friday prayers are offered at Hazratbal and attended by throngs of people.
The imposing structure of Srinagar's largest mosque, the Jama Masjid or Friday Mosque, is one of the earliest examples of Islamic wood architecture. First built in AD 1398, it was successively destroyed by fires and rebuilt thrice. The present building conforms to the original plan. Unlike the Islamic shrines, the Jama Masjid & other Muslim shrines in Kashmir are not topped by a dome. Instead four spires tower above the surrounding rooflines. Each of mosque's massive walls are pierced by an enormous doorway below its corresponding spire. Four lofty prayer halls are surrounded by 370 pillars, each the size of the deodar tree.
Located at Tullamula in the Srinagar district, it is a very important Hindu Shrine. The temple is associated with the Hindu Godess, Ragnya Devi. An Annual festival takes place here on Jesht Ashtami ( May-June) when Hindus visit the place in huges numbers to offer prayers to seek the blessings of the diety. Devotees also throng on every Shukla Paksh Ashtami round the year & perform HAWANS to please the Mother. The Historic Temple of Kheer Bhiwani was built by Maharaja Pratap Singh in 1912 & later renovated by Maharaja Hari Singh. Kheer Bhavani lies in the Ganderbal tehsil of Srinagar District .
Hari Parbat (SHARIKA PEETH) is situated at the periphery of Srinagar city is an ancient and on of the holiest place of Kashmir. It is the abode of Maha Shakti. The Divine mother of Shri Jagat Amaba Sharika Bagwati also known as Maha TRIPURSUNDHARI OR RAJESHWARI locally called HARIE. The EIGHTEEN ARMED goddess SHARIKA is regarded as the presiding deity (ISHT-DEVI) of Srinagar city.
The Goddess Sharika is represented by a Sayambhu ' SRI CHAKRA ' (Mahamaha Srichakra) also called 'MAHA SRIYANTRA' which consists of circular Mystic impressions and triangular patterns with fot(Bindhu) at the centre. The mystic SHRICHAKAR self-engraved on a vertical holy rock (shilia) is located at the middle of western face of Hari Parbat (Hillrock).
Charar-e-Sharif in Kashmir is the mausoleum of Shaikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani at Charar-e-Sharif. Kashmir, with its immense beauty and piousness holds the whole world enthralled for its virgin mysticism.Which is to be explored by the world,where brotherhood and communal harmony stood ahead among many ways to attain God.The Man,a prophet re-incarnation; Hindu by birth and dharma led masses of his followers among Muslims and Pandits in a unique way.
Skiing in Jammu and Kashmir is a thrilling and exciting experience for any adventure enthusiast. The Ski Club of India was established in Gulmarg in 1927, which is now considered as the ski paradise of India. Just 50 km from Srinagar, situated at an altitude of 2,730 m, Gulmarg changes its scenery from a flowery meadow to that pf a small ski resort in winters. The best season for skiing is mid-December to mid-April and the road is kept open to Gulmarg with the help of powerful German machines throughout the winter. There are other places apart from Gulmarg, where one may find the pleasure of skiing including Srinagar.
An excellent base for trekking in the northern Pir Panjal Range, one can see Nanga Parbat from here from several viewpoints. One such viewpoint is Khilanmarg to the west of Gulmarg. From a distance, the Pir Panjal appears to be rounded but while trekking one realizes that it seem quite equal in steepness to those of the main Himalayas. Sonamarg is the starting point of a major trek passing several mountain lakes that include Vishansar, Kishansar, Gadsar, Satsar and Gangabal. One trek even leads all the way to the Amarnath Cave.
The golf course at Gulmarg is one of the prettiest ones. Located as high as 3730 metres above sea level, it is the highest green golf course anywhere in the world. Hardly any stretch of the course is flat, which is full of the land slopes and inclines along the complete area of the course, which has a par of 72.The Kashmir Golf Club at Srinagar is spread over 52 sprawling acres of lush land.
Gulmarg and Sonamarg and one may go to the Suru and Zanskar valleys for hot air ballooning.India is fast emerging as a major aero-sports destination because of its long Himalayan range that offers opportunities for activities like Para Sailing, Para Gliding, Hot Air Ballooning, and Para Jumping. Though, it will still take some time for the state of Jammu and Kashmir to gain popularity as a hand-gliding landmark, yet the location of a flat valley surrounded by high mountains is an ideal terrain for hang-gliding.
The valley of Kashmir is as famous for its rivers and lakes as it is for its beautiful mountains. More than just an object of beauty, the waterways offer activity-oriented leisure sports too.Kashmir is the best place for enjoying river rafting between August and September. The hot spots for white water river rafting are the two mountain streams of river Indus and river Lidder. In fact, these are the perfect destinations for beginners also.
Through essentially meant to carry skier's uphill, a joy ride in the Gulmarg Cable Car has become a tourist attraction in itself. There are at least hundred 'gondolas' with Gulmarg Cable Car Corporation. Therefore, you never have to wait for more than a minute for the next one to come along and carry you from 2,690m to a height of 5000m.