Srinagar, the capital city of Jammu and Kashmir in India, is a beautiful and historic city known for its scenic beauty and rich cultural heritage. Located on the banks of the Jhelum River, Srinagar is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, lush green forests, and sparkling lakes, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in India.
If you are also visiting Pahalgam, read: Pahalgam Places to Visit and Tips to Avoid Getting Scammed
In this blog, I will take you through the best places to visit in Srinagar, what to do in Srinagar, and a 3 days Srinagar Itinerary to make your trip to Srinagar wholesome.
Places to Visit in Srinagar
Here is a list of my top picks of the places to visit in Srinagar:
Srinagar is home to not one, but five Mughal gardens. These gardens not only offer a glimpse into India’s rich history and culture but also provide a peaceful and serene environment for you to relax and unwind. Each garden is unique in its own way, offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains, lakes, and gardens.
Here are some general information about the Mughal gardens in Srinagar that will help you plan your trip:
- The gardens are open from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.
- Entry fee per adult is Rs. 24 and for children is Rs. 12.
- The best time to visit the Mughal gardens in Srinagar is in April when the plants and shrubs are in full bloom.
- You can take photos in Kashmiri attire in all of the Mughal gardens.
- All the gardens, except Badam Wari are open throughout the year. Badam Wari is open only between late March to early May, or when the almond trees are in bloom.
Shalimar Garden is one of the most beautiful and iconic Mughal gardens in Srinagar. The garden is located on the banks of Dal Lake and was built by Emperor Jahangir in 1619 for his beloved wife Nur Jahan. The garden is spread over 31 acres and is divided into three terraces, each with a unique theme and design.
One of the most unique features of Shalimar Garden is its water supply system. The garden is irrigated by a canal that runs through the center of the garden. The water flows through the canal and cascades down into the fountains and pools, creating a soothing and tranquil atmosphere.
Nishat Garden, also known as the Garden of Joy, is one of the most beautiful Mughal gardens in Srinagar. It is located on the banks of the Dal Lake and was built by Asif Khan, the brother-in-law of Emperor Jahangir, in 1633. The garden is spread over 46 acres and is known for its stunning landscapes, beautiful flowerbeds, and serene atmosphere.
Chashma Shahi is a beautiful Mughal Garden located on the foothills of the Zabarwan Mountains in Srinagar. It was built in 1632 by Ali Mardan Khan, a Mughal governor of Kashmir during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan. The garden is known for its natural spring, which is believed to have medicinal properties and is a major tourist attraction in Srinagar.
Chashma Shahi is one of the smallest Mughal gardens in Srinagar, but it is also one of the most serene and peaceful. The garden is spread over 1.5 acres and is divided into three terraces, each with a unique theme and design.
Ashley’s Tip: Carry an empty bottle with you when visiting Chashma Shahi to fill in some water to drink from the natural spring in Chashma Shahi. It is said that the water here has healing properties.
Badam Wari, also known as the Almond Garden, is a beautiful garden located in the heart of Srinagar. The garden is known for its stunning almond trees, which bloom during the spring season. I visited all the Mughal gardens in Srinagar and in my opinion, Badam Wari is the most beautiful Mughal Garden in Srinagar.
The Badam Wari was built by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir in the 17th century and was originally used as a hunting ground for the royal family. The garden is spread over 37 acres of land and has over 2000 almond trees, which bloom in shades of pink and white during the spring season.
Ashley’s Tip: Badam Wari is open only for a limited time of the year from late March to early May or only when the almond flowers are in bloom. Check the dates before planning your trip here.
Pari Mahal, which means the “Fairy Palace”, is a beautiful historical monument located in Srinagar. It is situated on top of the Zabarwan Mountains, overlooking Dal Lake.
The Pari Mahal was built by Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, in the 17th century. It was originally built as a Buddhist monastery and was later converted into a residence for the Mughal princesses. The palace is known for its stunning architecture and beautiful gardens, which add to the charm of the place.
Pari Mahal is also known for its unique blend of Islamic and Buddhist architecture. The palace has several arched doorways and windows, which are adorned with intricate carvings and designs. The palace also has several water fountains, which add to the beauty of the place.
Pari Mahal is a must-visit attraction in Srinagar and my second favorite Mughal Garden in Srinagar. It looks very different from the other Mughal gardens on account of the monuments.
Ashley’s Tip: If you are visiting Srinagar as part of a tour package, you are unlikely to have Pari Mahal on your itinerary. However, know that it is just 2.5 kilometers from Chashma Shahi and so you can demand your operator to take you anyhow.
The Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden, also known as the Tulip Garden, is one of the most beautiful and popular tourist attractions in Srinagar. It is located at the foothills of the Zabarwan Mountains and is spread over 30 acres of land.
The garden is known for its stunning tulip flowers, which bloom in various colors during the spring season.
The Tulip Garden was inaugurated in 2007 and is the largest tulip garden in Asia. The garden was built to promote tourism in the region and to showcase the beauty of Kashmiri flowers. Tulip garden is open to the public in April every year, which is the prime blooming season for the tulips.
The garden is divided into several sections, each with a unique color scheme and design. The tulips are planted in different patterns and designs, giving you a mesmerizing sight. The garden has over 1.5 million tulips of different colors, including red, yellow, orange, pink, and white.
Hari Parbat is a hill located in the city of Srinagar. It is an important historical and cultural landmark in the city and is a must-visit place for anyone interested in the history and culture of Kashmir. The hill is home to an ancient temple, a Gurudwara and other structures, and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and Dal Lake.
The hill is dominated by the Hari Parbat Fort, which was built in the 18th century by the Mughal emperor, Akbar. The fort is a massive structure, with several ramparts, gates, and watchtowers. It is built on the site of an ancient Hindu temple, and the walls of the fort still bear inscriptions and carvings from the earlier structure.
Another important structure on the hill is the Durrani Fort, which was built by the Afghan ruler, Ahmad Shah Durrani, in the 18th century. The fort is built in a unique style, with a blend of Mughal, Afghan, and Kashmiri architectural elements.
Apart from the historical and cultural significance of the hill, it is also a great place to enjoy nature and the stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the Dal Lake. There are several walking trails and picnic spots on the hill, which are popular with locals and tourists alike.
Ashley’s Tip: There will be a lot of walking involved. Carry enough water and wear sun protection.
Hazratbal Shrine is one of the most famous religious landmarks in Srinagar. It is a revered shrine for Muslims and is known for its historical and religious significance. The shrine is located on the banks of the Dal Lake and is a popular tourist attraction.
The shrine is home to a relic that is believed to be a hair from the beard of the Prophet Muhammad. The relic is displayed to the public on certain special occasions, and it is said to have miraculous powers. The shrine is also famous for its beautiful architecture, which combines traditional Islamic and Kashmiri styles.
Jamia Masjid is a historic mosque located in the heart of Srinagar. The mosque is a stunning example of Islamic architecture and is one of the most prominent landmarks of the city. Jamia masjid has a rich history and is an important religious and cultural center for Muslims in the region.
The mosque was built in 1394 CE by Sultan Sikandar Shah, the ruler of Kashmir at the time. The mosque has a spacious courtyard that can accommodate thousands of worshippers at a time. The architecture of the mosque is a blend of traditional Islamic and Kashmiri styles, with beautiful arches and ornate minarets.
Unlike the dome-structured mosques you will usually find, the architecture of Jamia Masjid is Persian-inspired and shows similarities to Buddhist pagodas. This makes Jamia masjid is a unique architectural marvel.
Apart from that, Jamia masjid is a great place for you to shop for clothes and footwear at cheap prices. The mosque is surrounded by a line of shops that sell clothing, footwear, and trinkets of reasonable quality.
Shankaracharya Temple is a revered Hindu shrine located on the top of a hill in Srinagar. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the oldest and most important religious landmarks in the region.
Shankaracharya temple is named after the great philosopher and theologian Shankaracharya, who is believed to have visited the site during the 9th century CE. The temple has a rich history and is known for its stunning architecture and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
To reach the temple, you have to climb a steep flight of stairs that lead up to the top of the hill. The climb can be challenging, but the stunning views and the peaceful surroundings make it all worth it. The temple is located at an altitude of 1100 feet above sea level and offers breathtaking views of Dal Lake and the surrounding mountains.
The architecture of the temple is a blend of traditional Kashmiri and Hindu styles. The temple has a circular base and a tall octagonal structure with a dome-shaped roof. The interior of the temple is decorated with beautiful carvings and intricate artwork, which adds to the charm and beauty of the shrine.
Ashley’s Tip: The road to Shankaracharya Temple is closed after 5:00 pm, so plan your trip accordingly.
Things to Do in Srinagar
Here is my suggestion on what to do in Srinagar:
Shikara Ride on Dal Lake
Shikara ride on Dal Lake is one of the most popular and enjoyable activities for tourists visiting Srinagar,. The Dal Lake is a stunningly beautiful lake that is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and lush greenery. The Shikara ride offers you a unique opportunity to explore the lake and experience the culture and beauty of Srinagar.
Shikaras are traditional Kashmiri boats that are brightly colored and decorated. The boats are operated by local boatmen who are skilled in navigating the lake and know all the best spots to explore. The Shikara ride is a leisurely and relaxing experience that allows you to take in the breathtaking views of the lake and its surroundings.
During the Shikara ride, your guide will show you the main viewpoints on the way, including the beautiful Char Chinar Island, which is home to four majestic Chinar trees. You can also visit the floating vegetable gardens and observe the local fishermen at work.
The Shikara ride is also a great way to experience the unique culture and traditions of Kashmir. While you are floating away slowly on Dal Lake, hawkers will row beside you with souvenirs, saffron, and Kaawah tea. You can even get your photo taken in the Kashmiri attire while riding on a shikara!
Ashley’s Tip: The Shikara ride is best enjoyed during the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is not too strong, and the weather is cool and pleasant. Be sure to bring a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water, as the sun can be strong during the day.
A houseboat stay in Srinagar is a unique and unforgettable experience that should not be missed by anyone visiting the city. Houseboats are an iconic feature of Srinagar and offer you a chance to experience the culture and beauty of Srinagar in a unique way.
Houseboats in Srinagar are typically made of cedar wood and are designed with intricate carvings and artwork. The houseboats are anchored along the banks of the Dal Lake and offer you a tranquil and serene environment to relax and enjoy the stunning views of the lake and its surroundings.
The houseboats in Srinagar are equipped with all the modern amenities to ensure that you have a comfortable and enjoyable stay. Each houseboat typically has one or more bedrooms, a living room, a dining area, and a fully equipped kitchen.
Ashley’s Tip: The houseboats in Srinagar come at varying levels of standards. You can get deluxe accommodation in a houseboat at around Rs.3000. The luxury houseboats can cost as high as Rs. 10000 per night.
Visit an Apple Orchard
Apple orchards are a must visit attraction in Srinagar. If you are visiting Srinagar in April, you will find the apple trees in full bloom. If you are visiting Srinagar in August -September, you will find apples hanging in bunches from the trees.
While you are in an orchard, you can eat as many apples from the trees as you can for FREE. If you want to buy them, you will get them for a throw away price.
Wazwan is a traditional Kashmiri feast that is an integral part of the local culture and cuisine. The feast typically consists of a lavish spread of meat-based dishes, served with rice and a variety of side dishes. Wazwan is not just a meal, but a symbol of hospitality and generosity in Kashmiri culture.
The meat used in Wazwan is typically lamb, which is slow cooked over a wood fire until it is tender and succulent. The meat is then served with a variety of gravies and sauces, each with its unique flavor and aroma.
The main course of Wazwan typically includes dishes such as Rogan Josh, Gushtaba, Rista, and Tabak Maaz. Rogan Josh is a spicy lamb dish that is cooked in a tomato-based gravy. Gushtaba is a meatball dish that is made with ground lamb and is cooked in rich yogurt-based gravy. Rista is a lamb meatball dish that is served in fiery red chili gravy. Tabak Maaz is a dish made with fried lamb ribs that are cooked with a variety of spices.
Wazwan is not just a meal but a social event that brings people together. The feast is traditionally served on large copper plates called trami. Make sure you eat with your hands as is the tradition in Kashmiri cuisine.
Ashley’s Tip: Wazwan comes in a very large plate. To give you an idea, a half plate/trami is more than enough for four people. Keep this in mind when you try this so that you don’t waste your money or the food.
Sip a Cup of Kahwa Tea
If you are visiting Srinagar, you have to have Kahwa chai!
Kahwa tea is a traditional Kashmiri tea a special blend of green tea leaves, saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, and other spices, along with almonds, walnuts, and saffron.
Kahwa tea is typically prepared in a special copper kettle called a “samovar.” The tea is brewed slowly over a low flame, allowing the flavors and aroma of the spices to infuse into the water and served hot.
Kahwa tea is not only delicious but also has several health benefits. The green tea leaves are rich in antioxidants, which help to boost the immune system and protect the body against disease. The saffron and other spices in the tea have anti-inflammatory properties and are believed to aid digestion and improve overall health.
Shopping in Srinagar
Whether you hire a taxi on your own or you are there on a packaged tour, you will be taken to the shopping emporium from where your taxi driver gets his commission. So, unless you are traveling on your own, you cannot go explore the shopping streets on your own.
If you want to buy authentic pashmina shawls, silk, or premium quality carpets, go to emporiums with long legacy. But if you are not particular about buying premium stuff, here’s what you can do to get good quality stuff at reasonable prices.
- Go shopping at the places your driver takes you to (as you really don’t have a choice sometimes) and bargain really hard.
- Don’t buy stuff from the first shop your driver takes you too. That will be the expensive kind. After spending some time in the shop come out looking disappointed and complain to your driver that it was pricy.
- Your driver will now take you to a cheaper place.
- If you want to get quality stuff at a really cheap rate, shop at the stores surrounding Jamia masjid. Your driver will not take you to any particular shop or shopping street that you ask them to as they may not get commission from there, however, they will take you to Jamia masjid anyway. This is where the locals shop, so you can be sure of the quality too.
What to Buy in Srinagar
Kashmir is famous for its rich cultural heritage and traditional handicrafts. There are several unique and beautiful items that you can buy in Srinagar, including:
Pashmina shawls – These soft and luxurious shawls are made from the fine wool of the Kashmir goat and are renowned for their warmth and beauty.
Kashmiri carpets – These hand-knotted woolen carpets are intricately designed and are famous for their durability and elegance.
Paper mache handicrafts – Kashmiri artisans create stunning paper mache items such as vases, bowls, and jewelry boxes, which are intricately painted with colorful designs.
Kashmiri spices – Kashmiri saffron, fennel, and other spices are highly prized for their unique flavors and aroma.
Wooden handicrafts – Kashmiri artisans are skilled in creating intricate wooden carvings, such as trays, boxes, and furniture.
Embroidered textiles – Kashmiri embroidery is known for its intricate patterns and exquisite craftsmanship. You can find embroidered fabrics, scarves, and other textiles in the local markets.
Kashmiri tea sets – These beautifully crafted tea sets, with intricate designs and enamel work, make for great souvenirs to take back home.
Srinagar 3 Days Itinerary
A three-day itinerary is a great way to explore Srinagar and experience its best offerings. Here’s my suggested itinerary for a three-day trip to Srinagar:
Day 1 in Srinagar
Shalimar Garden: This is the most famous of the Mughal gardens.
Nishat Garden: If you are running out of time and weighing in leaving out one of the Mughal Gardens, then I would suggest Nishat Gardens.
Shikara Ride on Dal Lake: Plan to do shikara ride after 3:30 pm to avoid the piercing glare of the sun.
Day 2 in Srinagar
Shankracharya Temple: You will need to climb over 200 steps to reach the temple, so plan it first thing in the morning.
Chasma Shahi: Carry an empty bottle to fill in water from the natural spring with healing properties.
Pari Mahal: Pari Mahal is just 2.5 kilometers from Chashma Shahi, so you can cover them one after the other.
Tulip Garden: Open only for a limited time in the month of April. Plan your trip in the second or third week of April if you want to visit the tulip garden.
Shopping: As you will be in town on this day, you can go visit fancy emporiums in Srinagar on this day.
Day 3 in Srinagar
Hari Parbat: There will be a lot of walking, so plan Hari Parbat as the first thing in the morning.
Badam Wari: Badam Wari is on the way to Hari Parbat but visit this on your way down so as to cool yourself off after all that walking.
Jamia Masjid: This is where you can do shopping at cheap prices, so plan your timing accordingly.
Hazratbal Shrine: Plan to spend some time here as the view of Dal Lake from here is spectacular.
That’s all, folks. I wish you have a wonderful trip to Srinagar and you get to see its beauty on your visit to Srinagar. Plan to spend at least three days in Srinagar to visit all the major attractions in Srinagar.
I hope that my Srinagar Travel Guide gave you all the information needed to plan a trip to Srinagar. If you think I missed something, do let me know in the comments below.
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