The ancient Shiva temple lies perched on a hill once known as the Takht-e-Sulaiman. With its pinnacle rising up to more than a thousand feet above in the sky commands a panoramic view of the city. Apart from the religious importance, the temple is a great archaeological specimen.
This temple is located on the top of the hills, southeast of Srinagar and is commonly known as the Takht-i-Sulaiman. This temple is situated at a height of 1100 feet above the Srinagar city. The temple is devoted to the worship of lord Shiva. Tours and travel to this pilgrimage involves a trek to the top of the hills in the Srinagar region.
This ancient temple dates back to 250 B.C. It is believed that the saint Shankaracharya stayed here when he visited Kashmir ten centuries ago to preach the Sanatan Dharma. In the ancient times this temple was known as the Gopadri. The main shrine has a circular cell inside. An inscription in Persian inside the shrine indicates that the origin of this sacred place dates back to the reign of emperor Shah Jahan. The saint Adi Shankaracharya visited Kashmir in the first quarter of the ninth century with the basic aim of spreading the philosophy of Vedanta. The saint also popularized the worship of lord Shiva in Kashmir.
It seems before saint Shankaracharya came to this area, Buddhism was rampant in this region. The main aim of Kashmir Hub is to acquaint tourists with all the tours and travel options to the sacred Shankaracharya temple, Srinagar, Kashmir, India.
Opposite the Nishat Bagh, the white edifice of Hazratbal Shrine stands on the northwestern bank of Dal Lake. On the backdrop of the snowcapped mountains, one of the holiest Islamic shrines preserves a strand of Prophet Mohammed's sacred hair.
The Hazratbal Shrine is a Muslim shrine in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India. It contains a relic believed by many Muslims of India to be a hair of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The name of the shrine comes from the Arabic word Hazrat, meaning holy or majestic, and the Kashmiri word bal, meaning place.
The shrine is situated on the left bank of the Dal Lake, Srinagar and is considered to be Kashmir's holiest Muslim shrine. The Moi-e-Muqqadas (the sacred hair) of Mohammed is believed to be preserved here. The shrine is known by many names including Hazratbal, Assar-e-Sharief, Madinat-us-Sani, or simply Dargah Sharif.
Kashmir Hub offers you an opportunity to explore the sacred Muslim pilgrimage destination of the Hazratbal shrine that is situated on the banks of the Dal Lake in Srinagar opposite Nishat Bagh. Tours and travel to this shrine can be a special experience as the Prophet Mohammad's hair, that is the Moi-e-Muqqadus, is preserved in this shrine. The history of this shrine dates back to the seventeenth century. The Hazratbal shrine is a marble structure that was specifically constructed by Muslim Auqaf Trust with the objective of preserving the Prophet's hair, this piece of hair arrived in Kashmir in the year 1699.
The Hazratbal shrine lies at a distance of 25 kilometers from the Badgam district in Srinagar, Kashmir. This pilgrimage destination is known by a number of names viz. the Assar-e-Sharif, Madinat-us-Sani and the Dargah Sharif. Mughal emperor Shahjahan's brother constructed the Ishrat Mahal at the site of the shrine sometime in the year 1623, later when the emperor himself visited the site he ordered the place to be converted into a prayer house. The shrine as such was built by the Muslim Auqaf trust. Before the Hazratbal shrine was constructed the sacred hair was placed in the shrine of Naqshband Sahib. The architecture of the shrine is a combination of Mughal and traditional Kashmiri.
The Moi-e-Muqqadus is usually on public display inside a glass casket on certain sacred and holy days. Tours and travel to the Hazratbal shrine gives you an opportunity to participate in the colorful and vibrant fairs that are held at Hazratbal every year, the most important among these is the Shab-e-Meraj. The Watul mela is also very popular among the tourists and the pilgrims.
Landscaped gardens are major tourist attractions in Srinagar. The Mughal emperors fell in love with the city and decorated with beautiful gardens, which are collectively known as the Mughal Gardens.
Mughal gardens are a group of garden designs which originate from the Islamic Mughal Empire. The style was influenced by Persian Gardens and Timurid gardens. Significant use is made of rectilinear layouts within walled enclosures. Typical features include pools, fountains and canals.
The founder of the Mughal empire, Babur or Timur described his favoured type of garden as a charbagh. This word developed a new meaning in India because, as Babur explains, India lacked the fast-flowing streams required for the Central Asian charbagh. The Agra garden, now known as the Ram Bagh, is thought to have been the first charbagh. India, Bangladesh and Pakistan have a number of Mughal gardens which differ from their Central Asian predecessors in their highly disciplined geometry.
Early textual references to Mughal gardens are found in the memoirs and biographies of the Mughal emperors, including Babur, Humayun and Akbar. Later references are found in the accounts of India written by European travellers, like Bernier. The first serious historical study of Mughal gardens was written by Constance Villiers-Stuart, with the title Gardens of the Great Mughals (1913). Her husband was a Colonel in Britain's Indian army. This gave her a good network of contacts and an opportunity to travel. During their residence at Pinjore Gardens Mrs Villiers-Stuart also had the opportunity to direct the maintenance of an important Mughal garden. Her book makes reference to the forthcoming design of a garden for the Government House in New Delhi (now Rashtrapati Bhavan). She was consulted by Edwin Lutyens and may have influenced his choice of the Mughal style for this project. Recent scholarly work on the history of Mughal gardens has been carried out under the auspices of Dumbarton Oaks (including Mughal Gardens: Sources, Places, Representations, and Prospects edited by James L. Wescoat, Jr. and Joachim Wolschke-Bulmahn) and the Smithsonian Institution.
The Mughal gardens are open to the public in February-March every year. Visitors are allowed entry to the garden from 9.30 A.M. till 2.30 P.M. on all days except Mondays. The gardens may remain closed on other days also in case of a function in the Mughal gardens or during the visit of a VVIP during the said period. The dates are made known to the public through various media. The entry and exit into the gardens is regulated from Gate No. 35 of the President's Estate, which is located near the North Avenue, at the western end of the Church Road.
Dachigam National Park is located 22 kilometers from Srinagar, the capital city of Jammu and Kashmir within the Republic of India. It covers an area of 141 square kilometers. The name of the park literally stands for "ten villages" which could be in memory of the ten villages that were relocated for its formation.
The park has been a protected area since 1910, first under the care of the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir and later under the observation of the concerned government authorities. It was initially created to ensure clean drinking water supply for the city of Srinagar. It was finally upgraded and declared a National Park in the year 1981.
The rich tradition and culture of Kerala has resulted in numerous places of worship in Kerala. These religious places of Kerala can also be called as Kerala pilgrim centers as most of them have become important pilgrimage with time. So read on further about the major religious places of Kerala. Click on each one given below to know further about that pilgrimage.
The Dal Lake is a famous lake in Srinagar, the summer capital of the northern most indian administered state of Jammu & Kashmir. The lake itself is connected to a number of other lakes of the Kashmir valley. It is well known for its approximately 500 Victorian-era wooden houseboats, originally built as vacation homes for landless British administrators during the Raj. The lake covers 18 square kilometers, and is divided by causeways into four basins, called Gagribal, Lokut Dal, Bod Dal and Nagin. Lokut-dal and Bod-dal have an island each in the centre, known as Rup Lank (or Char Chinari) and Sona Lank respectively. Along most of the shore of the lake is a boulevard, lined with Mughal-era gardens, parks, and hotels. During the winter season the lake sometimes freezes over.
The lake has some interesting flora and fauna. The flora include lotus flower, water lillies and water chestnuts. Notable birds are kingfishers and heron.
Apart from the houseboats, the Lake and Waterways Dal Authority allows kayaking, canoeing, water surfing and licensed angling on the lake.
With the onset of militancy in the immediate area, tourism dwindled in the late 1980s and 1990s. However, after concerted efforts by the authorities, tourist inflow has slightly improved in the 21st century. Wi-Fi internet access was implemented across the lake in November 2003, making it the first lake in the world to provide wireless internet connectivity uncontrolled macrophytic growth, introduction of exotic species like azolla , salvinia etc and silt are major problems affecting the lake.
During the cruise along the Dal Lake, you will pass by the Kabutar Khana (summer palace of Maharani). During summer, the water of this area is surrounded by many beautiful floating lotus plants and flowers. However, only the stems and roots underneath the water remains during winter.
Horse carriages are traditional mode of transportation in Kashmir and they still can be seen on the streets of Srinagar as well as other parts of Kashmir. These horse carriages will share the same roads as vehicles and people, very interesting indeed :)
When you are at Srinagar, you should explore the streets to experience the local people as well as the historical architecture of the old buildings of the old city area of Srinagar. One of the best places to explore are the shop-houses and bazaars surrounding the Jama Masjid (biggest mosque in Srinagar). Here, you will see the local people going about their daily life at the shops, market etc.
Please note that because Srinagar is predominantly Muslims, you will see mostly men on the streets and women tend to be shy and often not wished to be photographed (you need to do it discretely). Other than that, the people of Srinagar are generally friendly.
Here are more photographs of my visit to Gulmarg during the winter of year 2007-2008. Gulmarg is an alpine town in the Afarwat Mountain region about 2 hours drive west of Srinagar, and it is famous for its winter sports (and hiking during the summer). In fact, Gulmarg is also very close to the border with Pakistan (and Islamabad is only a few hours drive away). More tips and photos of Gulmarg are at my VT Gulmarg page.
Although Srinagar is the summer capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and there are good attractions in the city and surrounding areas, there are some very beautiful attractions further beyond in the Himalayan Mountains and Afarwat Mountains. The main attractions are:
- Gulmarg ("The Meadow of Flowers"): Very beautiful mountainous region west of Srinagar with snow activities (e.g. skiing) during winter and hiking during summer. More tips and photos are at my VT Gulmarg page.
- Pahargam: "The Valley of Shepherds" (with hills, valleys, rivers etc)
- Sonamarg: "The Meadow of Gold" (with Himalayan Mountains, valleys, rivers etc)
- Ladakh: This is a vast and remote area within the Himalayan Mountains many kilometres east of Srinagar. The landscape consists of barren snow mountains dotted with villages and farmland of Tibetan people. The biggest town in Ladakh is Leh.
- Zanskar: This is one of the most remote region in the world occupied by the traditional Zanskar people.
Note that Somamarg, Ladakh and Zanskar have very old and harsh winters, and these places can only be visited during the summer months when the weather is warmer and the mountain passes are free of snow.
The Mughal emperor's fort crowns the top of Hari Parbat Hill, which is a landmark which rises above the city of Srinagar. The fort was later developed in 18th century by an Afghan governor, Ata Mohammad Khan. The hill is considered sacred to the Hindus due to the presence of temple of Sharika, which is believed to be a form of goddess Durga or Shakti. The wall around the hill was built by Akbar in 1592-98 AD. 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. On the southern side of the Hari Parbat Hill is the historic shrine of Makhdoom Sahib, which is visited by people of all faiths.
Other than the previous tips and this tip, there are other historical attractions at Srinagar and surrounding areas which you might want to visit when you are there (if you have a few days to spare). They are as follows:
- Shankaracharya Temple
- Khanqah of Shah Hamadan
- Chhatti Padshahi Gurudwara
- Kheer Bhawani
Hazratbal Mosque is located in a village of the same name on the banks of the Dal Lake. It is made of white marble and on a calm day, you can see its reflection in the waters of the lake.
Hazratbal's special significance is derived from the fact that it houses a hair of the Prophet Muhammad. This is displayed to the public on religious occasions, usually accompanied by fairs.
Hazratbal is the only domed mosque in Srinagar; the other mosques have pagoda like roofs. The mosque complex is situated on the Western shore of the Dal Lake opposite Mughal Gardens Nishat Bagh and commands a grand view of the lake and the mountains.
The Jama Masjid is situated at Nowhatta, in the heart of the old city of Srinagar. It is the biggest mosque in Srinagar at which thousands of Muslims congregate for the Friday prayers. The mosque is built around a courtyard and is supported by 370 wooden pillars.
There are many shops and old bazaars surrounding the mosque. 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.
More photographs of Jama Masjid are at the travelogue section of this VT page.
The Mughal Kings of India were so amazed by the beauty of Srinagar that they built the famous Mughal Gardens during their reign of India many years ago. Most of the materials for the gardens were brought from far away such as Delhi and southern India.
There are several Mughal Gardens at Srinagar and I managed to visit the Mughal Garden Nishat Bagh. Below is a summary of the various Mughal Gardens:
Nishat Bagh: Situated on the banks of the Dal Lake, with the Zabarwan Mountains as its backdrop, 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.
Shalimar Bagh: Built by Emperor Jehangir for his wife Nur Jehan, Shalimar Bagh is a beautiful garden with sweeping vistas over gardens and lakes, and shallow terraces. The garden is 539m by 182m 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.
Chashma Shahi: 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.
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.