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Places In Kashmir

Hazratbal Shrine

Hazratbal Mosque is the most important Muslim Religious place, situated on the western shore of Dal Lake. Its pristine white marble elegance is reflected 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. Apart from these occasions, Friday prayers are offered at Hazratbal and attended by throngs of people. 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.

The history of the shrine goes back to the early seventeenth century when the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan's Subedar, Sadiq Khan, laid out a garden here & constructed a palatial building, Ishrat Mahal or Pleasure House in 1623. However, the Emperor, during his visit in 1634, ordered the building to be converted into a prayer House with some additions & alterations. During the time of Aurangzeb, when Moi-e-Muqqadus (The Holy Relic) arrived in Kashmir in 1699, it was first kept in the shrine of Naqashbad Sahib in the heart of the city. Since the place was found to be insufficient in view of the unprecedented rush of people who thronged the place to have a glimpse of the Moi-e-Muqqades, it was decided to shift the it to Hazratbal, then known as Sadiqabad. The construction of the present marble structure was started by the Muslim Auqaf Trust headed by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1968 and completed in 1979. The "Moi-e-Muqqadas" (Holy Relic of Prophet Mohammad S.A.W) is displayed on Various occasions related with the life of Prophet & his four holy companions.

Hazratbal lies in Srinagar and the nearest Airport is approx. 25 Km away. This Airport is connected with major cities of India. The nearest Rail Head is at Jammu which is 300 Kms away and from there National Highway NH1A connects the Kashmir valley with India. Every sort of transport to suit every budget from Buses to Taxis ply on this Highway. It Takes around 10 to 12 hours to cross this mountainous road which crosses some beautiful spots and the famous Jawahar Tunnel linking Kashmir Valley with India. Regular transport is available from various points in the Srinagar city with nominal charges. Route from Dal Lake can also be undertaken.

The Moi-e-Muqqadus (Holy Relic of Prophet p.b.u.h) 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.

Charar-i-Sharif

Charar-i-sharif counts amongst the most sacrosanct Muslim shrines in India. It is situated approximately 40 km from Srinagar, enroute to Yusmarg near POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir). A wooden shrine, the Charar-i-sharif is approximately 600 years old. Popularly known as the Hazrat Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Wali, the shrine was built to commemorate Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani, a Sufi saint. The life of the Sheikh is full of legends and tales. He was born as Nund Reshi or Sahazanand to Salar Sanz in 1377. It is said that he refused to drink milk till the third day after his birth, when a Yogini (female saint), Lal Ded fed him with her own milk. Later, she left the house after saying that the child would be her spiritual heir.

Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani or Nund Rishi was the first one to start Rishism in the valley. Later, this Rishism got renowned as Rishi Mat, a Vishnav Mat. The saint preached communal harmony, non-violence, vegetarianism and tolerance to the people. He gathered many followers who called him by different names. Some of the names conferred on the saint are Sheikh-ul-Alam, Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani, Alamdar-e-kashmir, Sarkhel-e-Rishiya, etc. Apart from preaching, the Sheikh made numerous contributions in the field of philosophy also, in the form of verses and poetry.

The saint led a very simple life throughout. It is said that nine lakh people gathered at the Shrine of Charar within two days of his death, in 1438. The King Sultan Zainul Abdin also took part in his funeral procession. Charar e Sharif served as his final resting place, where his mortal remains were buried. The Charar-e-sharief of Kashmir, India, has been destroyed twice. The first time, the shrine and its surroundings suffered ruination was when a battle took place between the Indian Army and the Pakistani Army. However, the shrine was reconstructed on the lines of central Asian architecture. But, again in 1995 Islamic militants destroyed a major part of the shrine in a fire. Still, after all the assaults the shrine continues to be revered and respected by both the Hindus as well as Muslims.

Dastageer Sahib

(5km) the shrine of Hazrat Shiekh Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani RA of Baghdad, is one of the most revered shrines in Valley. The shrine has a wonderful appearance borne by its architecture. The holy relic in the shrine is displayed to the faithful on religious occasions when large gathering of people are witnessed. The belief in Dastagir Sahib is deep rooted in the hearts of common people of the Valley.

Jamia Masjid

The Jama Masjid at Nowhatta, in the heart of the old city, is the other important mosque in Srinagar at which thousands of people congregate for the Friday prayers. Of imposing proportions, the mosque is built around a courtyard and is supported by 370 wooden pillars.

The hushed quiet of the mosque counterpoints the bustle of the old bazaars surrounding it. 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.

Jamia Masjid , the Biggest Mosque in Kashmir, is known as one of the sacred shrines of Islamic followers. Be it the holiness or the constructional elegance, Jamia Masjid is quite unparalleled in every aspect. Comprised of 370 pillars of wood, Jamia Masjid symbolizes one of the best architectural specimen which survived the ravages of time ever since it was constructed in the valley of Jammu & Kashmir.

While looking into the origin and construction of Jamia Masjid, the name of Maharaja Pratap Singh comes several times as it was during his Kingdom that the maintenance and repair works of the Mosque was carried out. Pratap Singh enthusiastically encouraged the re-construction of Jamia Masjid many a time and even offered financial assistance too.

Shah-e-Hamdan Mosque

Shah Hamdan Mosque (7km) is one of the oldest mosques in Srinagar built in 14th century by Sultan Qutab-ud-din and Sultan Sikandar in respect of Syed Ali Hamdani RA. Syed Ali Hamdani born in 1314 AD learnt Quran by heart in his teens. When Timur unleashed a policy of repression against Sayyids, Syed Ali Hamdani RA left his homeland along with 700 more Sayyids and came to Kashmir in 1372 for the first time . During his regular long stays in Kashmir Shah e Hamdan played a major role in spreading Islam in the Valley. Syed Ali Hamdani RA commonly known as Shah-e-Hamdan was a profound scholar, a prolific writer, versatile in many subjects of science and had a charm of a Sufi who treat all religions alike.

The mosque's breathtaking wood carvings and fine papier-mache work indicates Chinese origin. Rear view of the mosque blend with the golden colour of the JehIum is a speaking landmark in the history of Kashmir. On the doorway of the shrine carved inscription 786 Hijri corresponds to 1384 AD ,the year of Shah Hamdans demise at Pakli in Hazara where after he was buried in Khutlan.

Roza Bal

"The sacred tomb" located n Anzimar, near Khanyar in the heart of old Srinagar city, is the tomb of Hazrat "Yuzu Asaph".

According tophilosophy in Hebrew wordYuzu indicates to Jesus and Asaph means the ‘gatherer'.It is believed hat Jesus PBUH arrived in the valley from Palistine after the Resurection in quest of the lostIsareal tribe and this tomb is said to be the final place of resting place of Jesus PBUH.according to Tarihk-e-Kashmir byMulla Nadiri,Hazrat yuzu Asaph arrived from the holy land ofPalastine to the Holy valley of Kashmir and proclaimed his ministry.He called people to follow the oneness of Godduring the reins of Raja gopadatta in year 54(middle of the first century) or 78 AD.Acoording to Sulaiman a minister of Gopadatta, who had come from Pesi to repair a temple"Yusu was the Prophet of Children of Israel".

It is said that the people of Kashmir having become the idolators after the great flood of Noah,Yuzu Asaph was sent as prophet for the people.Some ssy Yuzu asaph Was Jesus in disguise.Some describe Yuzu or JesusPBUH as an apostle of God sent to minister the people of Kashmir.

Shrine of Maqdoom Sahib

A revered saint of Kashmir, commonly known as Hazrat Sultan, is on the southern side of the Kohi Maran, making it a precedent of religious solidarity in Kashmir.

Naqashband Sahib

(5.5 km) The Shrine of Syed Bahaudin Naqashband Sahib Mushkil RA who who fouded Sufism in Bukhara (Uzbekistan),it is a masterpiece designed with wonderful woodwork, yet another example of architectural talent of Kashmir in early 17th century when the shrine was built in memory of Khwaja who did not visit the valley himself but sent his disciple Khwaja Noor-ud-Din ,who is buried close to the main shrine. The graveyard "Mazar e Shohdha'adjacent to the shrine is a burial place of some of the famous Kashmiri Freedom fighters of the past.

Pather Masjid

On the other side of Jehlum, opposite Shah Hamdan Mosque, is Pather Masjid which was built by Empress Nur-Jehan. It is said that the mosque never consecrated as Nur Jehan apparently had hurt the sentiments of the religious leaders of the time. Even today, no collective prayers (Jamat) is offered here officially.The structure stands witness unmatched stonework that still has a glorious shine. Pather Masjid is a historical monument protected by the Archeological Society of India

Aali Masjid

8 km from Lalchowk one of the oldest mosques in Srinagar is situated at the famous Iddgah grounds. Originaly built by Ali Shah the son of Sultan Sikander in 1415 AD ond rebuilt by Aurangzebs goverernor Islam Khan 1664-65. Mosques pristine architecture and woodwork reflects masterpiece workmanship of old times. The mosque measures 18ft length by 75ft breadth, the central holl of the mosque is constructed on 96 huge wooden pillars each about 50ft high. The outer courtyard has more than 30 pillars with a staircase on two sides. Aali Masjid has a history of being a most religiously and politically active platform after the Jamia Masjid. It has not been used for prayers for many years but the quality of the entire structure has the same vigor even today. The authorities have started the repair work to protect a valuable vernacular structure for the future.

Shankar Acharya Temple

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. In fact, the road below the hill, with residences of high- ranking State Government officials, is still known as Gupkar road. Built on a high octagonal plinth and approached by a flight of steps with side walls that once bore inscriptions, the main surviving shrine consists of a circular cell. It overlooks the Valley and can be approached by a motorable road. A modern ceiling covers the inner sanctum and an inscription in Persian traces its origin to the reign of Emperor Shah Jehan. The original ceiling was dome- shaped and the brick roof, it appears, is not more than a century old.

Rajtarangini states that it was first built by Jalauka, the son of great Emperor Ashoka, about 200 B.C. The temple was later rebuilt and dedicated to Jyesthesvara by Gopaditya, who ruled from 253 A.D. to 328. The hill was called Gopadri and the village at its foot on the south is still called Gopkar.

It is also said that once Shankaracharya, a famous Hindu saint, came to Kashmir from South India to revive Hinduism. He stayed on the top of the hill for sometime and the hill thus came to be known as Shankaracharya hill.

This temple stands on a solid rock and consists of an octagonal basement of 13 layers. Each of the four sides has two projections which terminate in pediment and agable, the latter intersecting the main roof half way up its slope.

Bamzai, the great historian, gives the following description of the temple

The body of the temple is surrounded by a terrace enclosed by a stone wall or parapet, 3.5 feet high. This in following the outline of the basement, preserves its octagonal shape. The surrounding of the temple is reached by three flights of stone steps, numbering respectively 6,7 and eighteen, the last being encased between two walls. From the terrace another flight often steps leads to the door of the temple. The interior is a chamber, circular in plan, with a basin containing a lingam. Its general shape is that of a cone with four sides formed by the rectangular adjustment of gable-shaped slabs of masonry .... The interior of the temple is 14 feet in diameter; the ceiling is flat and 11 feet high; the walls which are 7.5 feet thick, are covered with white plaster composed of gypsum, and the roof is supported by four octagonal limestone pillars. The whole of the building is of stone, which is laid throughout in horizontal courses, no cement appearing to have been used .

The temple shows the early Kashmiri style. It tries to introduce the early Sihara style and has still one-storeyed gable pediment which is evident even now. Here we find the early specimen of the horse shoe arch, prominent in the final stages of this architecture, as, for example, in Martand.

Leaving the Shankaracharya hill behind, we see, on the right side of the boulevard, a line of magnificent mansions, some of which contain hotels and some showrooms of the big business houses of Kashmir. There are also magnificent palatial buildings which have been converted into a hotel, known as Oberoi Palace Hotel. Above on the height, close to Shankaracharya, is Dr. Karan Singh's Palace, known as Karan Niwas.

Kohi Maran (Hari Parbat)

(6km)Surmounted by an 18th century fort constructed by Atta Mohommad Khan an Afgan governor The hill is surrounded by a wail built by Akbar in AD 1592-98. At its foothills almond orchards used to be a favourite picnic spot of Kashmiri people in spring during blossom time (Badamwar). There is a Gurudwara (Sikh temple) ond a Hindu temple of Sharika Devi on the hill.

Chatti Padshahi Gurduwara

Chatti Padshahi, one of the most important Sikh Gurudwaras in Kashmir.The sixth guru of Sikhism traveled through Kashmir, stopping to preach occasionally. It is situated just outside the southern gate of Hari Parbat fort.

The sixth Sikh guru traveled through Kashmir, stopping to preach occasionally. A gurudwara has been built at the exact site of each of these halts. The most important one among these is Chhatti Padshahi Gurudwara, which is held in great reverence.

Khir Bhawani

One marvel of Kashmir is the mysterious holy spring of Khir Bhawani which is widely known to change its colour from time to time. It is towards the north of Srinagar at a distance of about 14 km. and can be reached within an hour by bus.

Before we enter the main islet to have Darshana of the holy spring of Bhawani we come across two important sites - one is Ziarat of Mir Baba Haider (a Muslim saint) and the other is the Samadhi of Shri Labhu Shah, a saint who lived some 150 years ago in Kashmir.

The main spring dedicated to Goddess Khir Bhawani has an irregular heptagonal shape with its apex called Pad ( feet ) to the East. The northern and the southern sides are longer than the western side which is called Shir (Head). In the centre of the holy spring where once stood a mulberry tree, there is one marble temple which enshrines some idols found at the time of cleansing the spring. In January 1970 an electric pump was installed to conduct the cleansing operation of the spring. Besides removal of mud and mire which had accumulated since long at the bottom of the spring a number of gold ornaments and silver pieces offered to the Goddess were recovered. As a result of the silt clearance a huge volume of milky white water bubbled out. During recent times regular clearance is being made after each festival when huge quantities of flowers, lotuses, mentha sylvestries (Vena) offered by devotees collect at the surface of the holy spring.

The water of the Spring changes its colour from time to time. It takes on various hues like red, pink, orange, green, blue and has often light green, red rosy and milky white shades. Abul Fazal in 16th century and Swami Vivekananda in the year 1894 have testified this fact. Any shade of black colour is supposed to be inauspicious for the inhabitants of the valley. This colour was prominent in the year 1947 when the Pakistani raiders attacked the peaceful valley. Many times rising of bubbles has been observed which form the mystic Chakra on the surface of the water. In my infancy I had a strange experience here. An outstretched hand from the holy spring offered me a beautiful pen in a dream. In the morning when I woke up I found the same pen under my pillow which I retained for many years with me as a sacred relic of the Divine Mother. Such a sacred and mysterious spring is found nowhere else in India. The people living round the holy spring have great veneration for the holy shrine. A Hindu or a Muslim will not enter the premises of the holy spring if he happens to have taken meat on the day. In 1947 when the Pakistani marauders attacked the valley the local Muslims led them astray to save the shrine from their unholy hands.

Tulip Garden

If a bunch of flowers can do miracles, imagine what can lacs of Tulips, spread over more than 200 acres of land do! April 2007, for the first time govt of J&K let open Siraj Bagh ‘Tulip Garden' for the .visitors. It is one of the oldest gardens used ar floricultural and botanical purposes in valley, situated in the foothills of Zabarwan range near Royal Springs Golf Course just 8 km from TRC. The superior quality tulip bulbs are imported from Holand in a huge quantity and cultivated over the acres Siraj bagh in the month of October & November, which is the sowing season for the tulips. Month of March the green leafy stems produce a single bud, which grows into a marvelous tulip flower from early April. Tulip lowers observe the spreading in the morning time and its contraction in the evening time, which makes it most magnificent flower on earth. It is called "a garden of heaven" where only lucky people get a chance to visit and carry back the magnetic charm and strength of strong colors of the Tulips.

Nishat Bagh

The Garden of bliss laid down by Asif Khan father of Empress Noorjahan in 1633AD on the bank of Dal Lake with Zabarvan Massif at the back. In Nishat commands magnificent view of the Lake and the Snow capped Pir Panchal Range to the west of the valley.

Originally, this garden had 12 terraces rising higher up the mountain side from the eastern side of the Dal Lake but the lower terrace, which stretched down to the lake, no longer exists now, having been cut off by the modern road. The garden, thus, consists of only nine terraces at present.

The brightest spot in the garden is the second terrace. This, in the words of R.C. Kak, "with its thick groves of Persian lilacs, its high, broad and vertical cascade of sparkling water and its beds of brilliant pansies, is the most fragrant beauty". R.C. Kak further says that the "twenty-three small niches in the arched recess immediately behind the cascade were originally intended for rows of lamps, whose flickering light, reflected and multiplied in the transparent sheet of water behind which they lay, must have presented a singularly pleasing spectacle at night". Mrs. Stuart, in her poetic language, quoted by Dr. Sufi, says : "The stream tears foaming down the carved cascade, fountains play in every tank and water-course, filling the garden with their joyous life and movement".

There are two main pavilions, one at the lower and the other at the upper end of the garden. In the middle there is a reservoir of about 14 feet square and three feet deep with a few fountains.

Shalimar Bagh

The Abode Of Love. Is said to have been a village, built by Paravarassna II. He used to stay here when on a visit to Sukhswami a saint living near Harwan. In 1619 Jehangir ordered a garden to be laid out this spot, calling it, Ferrah Bakkash (Delightful). In 1727 A.D Zaffar-Khan. A governor during the reign of Shah Jahan made an extension of it and called it Faiz Baksh (Bountiful).

There are four terraces rising one above the other and nearly of equal dimensions. Bamzai, giving the graphic description of the garden, writes: "There is a line of tanks or reservoirs along the middle of the whole length of the garden and these are connected by a canal, 18 inches deep and from 9 to 14 yards wide. The tanks and the canal with their scheme of fountains and cascades, are lined with polished limestone, resembling black marble. The water to feed these is obtained from the Haman stream behind the garden".

The fourth terrace was the private portion of the garden. The ladies stayed there. "It contains in its centre a magnificent black stone pavilion on which is raised a platform, a little more than three feet high and sixty-five feet square. Its sloping roof is almost 20 feet high and is supported on each side by a row of six elaborately carved black marble pillars, which are polygonal-shaped and fluted". It was used as a banquet hall.

Cheshma Shahi

Cheshma Shahi or the Royal Spring was laid by Shah Jahan in 1632 A.D. It is 9 Km. from the city centre and is famous for a spring of refreshment digestive water, having a natural spring of Pure, Cool and Sparking water. Two kilometers uphill from Cheshma Shahi is situated the Pari Mahal ( The palaces of Fairies) , a school of astrology founded by Prince Dara Shikoh, Emperor Shah Jahan's eldest son who was killed in the war of succession.The Cheshma Shahi-Pari Mahal area has been developed into a Tourist Village.

Aldous Huxley says that Chashma Shahi is "architecturally the most charming of the gardens near Srinagar".

Parimahal ( The palaces of Fairies)

Next to Maharaja's palace we find the ruins of Pari Mahal, "the fairies abode", upon the mountain slope. It is situated to the west of Cheshma Shah, and a ruined garden palace. The construction of this palace is ascribed to Dara Shikoh, who was beheaded in 1659 by Aurangzeb. The garden consists of six terraces, with a total length of about 400 feet. The width of the terraces varies from 197 feet to 205 feet.

Pari Mahal is surrounded by gardens.In the uppermost terrace are the ruins of two structures, a baradhari, facing the lake, and a water reservoir, built against the mountain side. The reservoir was fed by a spring which has since gone dry. In the middle of the second terrace exactly in front of the baradhari is a large tank with brick sides measuring 36'-6" by 26'-6".

The third terrace is quite an interesting part of the garden. The entrance arched in front and behind with a central domed chamber, is in the middle of the east. It is painted with white plaster. On either side of it are a few large rooms, one of which appears to have been a hammam. Its interior is most decorated. On the south of the entrance are a few other chambers.

Harwan Garden

Harwan Garden is situated in the district of in Srinagar. A beautiful and massive garden, Harwan is a popular picnic spot. A beautiful canal, fed from a lake just behind the garden, passes through its center. The canal is bordered with blossoming flowerbeds and chinar trees. Kashmir Harwan Garden does not have the usual terraces, artificial fountains, etc, like the other gardens of Kashmir. It has been deliberately kept devoid of these man-made things. The main attraction of the Harwan garden of Kashmir, India, is its natural beauty that is present in plenty. The big lawns, carpeted with green grass, draw people automatically towards this place. An ideal spot for picnics and excursions, Harwan is the perfect place to take long walks in the lap of nature. It also serves as a take-off point for visiting Dachi Gam Wild life sanctuary and a starting point of a Mahadev Mountain trek.

Pahalgam [ The Village of Shepherds! ]

The Lidder river runs through Pahalgam in a rushing gray-green torrent, foam flecked, breaking in curling waves against the boulders that lie in its path. Its sound is an eternal as the whisper of wind through pine and fir, its force primeval its untamed splendor.

Long before this little village 96 Km east from Srinagar 2400 meters above sea level, became the popular holiday resort it is today, it was the preserve of nomadic shepherds. Its rugged charm has remained un-spoilt by progress, while a bustling main street and its wide range of tented camps, hotels and lodges have established it as a favorite holiday resort.

Pahalgam spreads along the banks of the Lidder, which is the focal point of interest to the angler. The trout fisherman delight, the Lidder is divided into three fishing beats between Mattan and Phalgham, and the trout are so thick that even the first time fisherman can land a good catch.

Pahalgam is perhaps best known as the take off point for trek into the surrounding mountains. The resort is well geared to meet the demands at onward going trekkers and camping equipments is readily available, as are ponies and porters. Walking the Lidder valley is scenically most rewarding, through forests of virgin pine, fording crystal clear mountains streams and through meadows of wild flowers, higher up the valley.

Popular treks from Pahalgam are to the Kolohao Glacier Via Aru, Satlanjan and Dudsar Lake, and to the high altitude lakes, that dot the meadowland and mountain ridges between Pahalgam and Sonmargh. Cottages in a tourist village, a full fledged club and a large number hotels have come up this beautiful resort pilgrimage to a cave of an 'ice-lingam'. There is something about the pure and re-vitalizing air of Pahalgam. Perhaps dense pine and cedar forests make it oxygen rich. Limited accessibility combined with limited telecom connectivity make it an ideal getaway from the grind of daily life and professional stress. The town is 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 Himalayas.

Apart from adventures, Pahalgam is the starting point of the annual Amarnath yatra (holy journey) to the holy cave shrine of Amarnath, which is said to be the abode of Lord Shiva. Every year in the month of July/August, thousands of pilgrims descend on Pahalgam on their way to the holy cave .

Chandanwari

Chandanwari at 2,895 m and 16 km (10 miles) from Pahalgam, is the starting point of the Amamath yatra. The road from Pahalgam to Chandanwari is curvy, sometimes a relatively flat terrain, with quite a few steep curves. It can be undertaken by car (not busses and trucks for most part) with some skilled driving. From Chandanwari onwards the track becomes much steeper, being accessible on foot or by pony only. 11 km from Chandanwari is the mountain lake of Sheshnag, after which, 13 km away is the last stop, Panchtarni. A narrow spiralling path from Panchtarni leads to the Amarnath Cave.

Gulmarg

Gulmarg is located 52 kms south west of the capital city of Srinagar and lies close to the Indo-Pakistan border area. Immensely beautiful, the landscape of Gulmarg offers a pleasant and comfortable stay to its visitors. Today the place. has been famous for the different adventure activities and gives a fabulous background to many bollywood movies. The original name of Gulmarg was gaurimarg. Its name has been changed by Yousuf Shah Chak after collecting 21 kinds of flowers.Gulmarg, "Meadow ofFlowers", was discovered in 16th century during the reign of Sultan Yousuf Shah. Historians describe the famous love couples, Habba Khatoon, poetess of Kashmir and King Yousuf Shah Chak, and Jehangir and Noor Jehan visiting Gulmarg for enjoying life.. Gulmarg is on full bloom during the Summer with flowers like bluebells and daisies. This wonderland of nature was first discovered in the year 1927 by the Britishers as a place of recreation and relaxation amidst the glory of nature during pre independence India.

During summer months Gulmarg is famous for its highest green golf course in the world which is at an altitude of 2732 mtrs. Since 1972, proved by the famous Australian golfer Mr. Peter thomson who played golf at gulmarg. Gulmarg is blessed with nature- the magical meadows and the snow capped mountains is a wonderful touristdestination in the world. One of the best adventure destinations of India, Gulmarg is called the Meadow of Flowers. The towering peaks provide the required background to the landscape of Gulmarg which is oneof the finest heli-skiing resorts in the whole of Asia.

Sonmarg - the Meadow of Gold !

Sonamarg, at an altitude of 3,000 metres above sea level, 87 km north-east of Srinagar. The drive to Sonamargh is though yet another spectacular facet of country side in Kashmir, this time in Sindh Valley. The Sindh Valley is the largest tributary of the valley of Kashmir. It is upwards of sixty miles long, and valley and deep rock-girt gorge to open grassy meadow land and village-dotted slopes.

Sonamarg, which means ' meadow of gold' has, as its backdrop, snowy mountains against a cerulean sky. the Sindth meanders along here and abounds with trout and mahseer, snow trout can be caught in the main river. Ponies can be hired for the trip up to Thajiwas glacier a major attraction during the summer months. The climate of Sonamarg is very bracing; but the rainfall is frequent though not heavy, except for two or three days at a time in July and August with fine spell in between.

From Sonamarg, trekking routes lead to the Himalayan lakes of Vishansar (4084 msl), Krishnasar (3810 msl) and Gangabal (3658 msl). Other lakes in the region are Gadsar, stocked with snowtrout and Satsar, glacier-fed and surrounded by banks of alpine flowers.

A close by excursion is to Baltal, 15 km north of Sonamarg. This little valley lies at the foot of the Zojila, only a day's journey away from the sacred cave of Amarnath. Trekkers can also reach the starkly splendid roof-top of the world – Leh, by crossing over the Zijila Pass Beautiful resort famous for trekking trails, all year skiing and a gateway to Leh, Ladakh. Know more about hotels, travel, Sindh Valley, trout, mahaseer, Thajiwas Glacier, Zojila pass, Srinagar-Leh Road, Gujars, Nilagrad & Bisansar Krishnasar Lake, etc. in this pictureque meadow of gold. Want to beat that summer heat skiing? If yes, then Sonmarg in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir is the ideal getaway destination. Located 84 kilometers from state capital Srinagar, Sonmarg lies in the valley carved by River Sindh and is surrounded by towering snow-capped mountains. Also known as the "Gateway to Ladakh" the surrounding areas of this small town are covered in snow till the end of July.

Sonmarg makes an excellent base for trekking in Jammu & Kashmir. In the summer months this hill-station area is visited for the day by many down country tourists from the various parts of Northern India. Sonmarg has a small, tourist bazaar and some seasonal restaurants, and the tourist center here is a well of activity with people booking horseback rides or rest houses for the night. The major importance of Sonmarg is that it is the last stoppage point of Kashmir, when one is heading from Srinagar to Leh. During daytime one can take the 3-mile horseback ride west, then south, to the Thajiwas glacier. The tourist officer in Sonmarg is at the center during the day and can be of excellent assistance if you have questions or trekking equipment requirement for several days while you are trekking.

Yusmarg

A two hour drive from Srinagar ( 47 kms ) will take you to acres upon acres of grassy meadow ringed by forests of pine, and towering beyond them, awesome and majestic snow clad mountains. This is Yusmarg- close enough to Srinagar for a picnic, idyllic enough to make you want to stay for a few days. Here are walks of every sort - a leisurely amble along flower-strewn meadows or away to where a mighty river froths and crashes its way over rocks, its mild white foam earning it the name of Dudh Ganga.

Further away, a captivating lake, Nilnag, is cradled by hills. Nearby are several peaks- Tatta Kutti and Sang Safed to name a couple of them. About 13 kms from Yusmarg, a short detour away from the Srinagar road, is Charari- Sharief, the Shrine of Kashmir's patron saint Sheikh Noor-ud-din or Nund Reshi, now rebuilt after the devastating fire of 1994 which engulfed the entire building.

Sunset Peak and Mahadiv Mountain are the major points of interest here. Yusmarg Valley has the best spring flowers in the state.

Watlab

Gradually, the panoply of the 'real Kashmir', miles away from well-traversed areas, will unfold before you, and you will reach Watlab. Here, high on a hilltop is the shrine of a Muslim mystic, Baba Shukurddin. From here, the Wular Lake stretches away as far as the eye can see, edged by picturesque villages around terraced breeze-rippled fields of paddy, in a riotous burst of colour. At Watlab there is a Forest Rest House amidst sprawling apple orchards. You can rest here to enjoy the sheer grandeur of the spectacular countryside at leisure.

Achabal

Once the pleasure retreat of Empress Nur Jehan, Achabal (1,677 m) has a fine garden in the Mughal style, with its own special charm and character. It was in Kashmir that the Mughal Garden was brought to perfection, and Achabal is one such masterpiece.

Situated at the foot of a hill with a row of majestic chinars framing it, the Mughal garden is a visual delight with their stepped terraces, formal elegance, ornamental shrubs, sparkling fountains and falling water. Achabal is 58 kms from Srinagar, via Anantnag.

Daksum

Past the Mughal Gardens of Achabal, with their tinkling fountains, through the breathtaking splendour of the springs at Kokarnag, lies Daksum. Tucked away in a densely forested gorge at an altitude of 2438 m, Daksum would be completely silent but for the Bringhi river which gushes through it.

Daksum is a walker's paradise. Up the hills which are swathed in coniferous trees, past gurgling brooks, the simple, haunting notes of a flute will waft down to you from where an unseen shepherd tends his flock. For in the hills surrounding Daksum, suddenly you will find yourself in grassy meadows where sheep are taken to pasture. Daksum is a reviving experience -the bracing mountain air, the solitude, the densely clad hills, and beyond them, snow covered mountains, all contribute to Daksum's mystique, making it the perfect retreat.

Khilanmarg

All through the summer and well into the autumn, Gulmarg is a enticing attraction for golfers from all over the world. The world's highest, 18-hole green golf course is at Gulmarg. A highland meadow, just 4 km from Gulmarg, Khilanmarg is accessible by foot, by pony or in a dandi. From here, the view of the snow peaks and the limpid waters of the Wular Lake is a breathtaking one, unfolding view upon view of Himalayan splendour.

Khilanmarg offers an unparalleled view of the great Himalayan range. The Apharwat peak leads to the Alpather Lake, a picturesque alpine lake that remains frozen until late June. For horse riding freaks, Alpather Lake makes an exciting day's excursion. Slightly lower than Gulmarg is the shrine of Baba Reshi (a Muslim mystic saint) visited by people of all faiths.

This smaller valley is about a 6-km walk from the Gulmarg bus stop and car park. The meadow, carpeted with flowers in the spring, is the site for Gulmarg's winter ski runs and offers a fine view of the surrounding peaks and over the Kashmir Valley. It's a 600-metre ascent from Gulmarg to Khilanmarg and during the early spring, as the snow melts, it can be a very muddy hour's climb up the hill. The effort is rewarded, if it's clear, with a sweeping view of the great Himalayas from Nanga Parbat to the twin 7,100-metre peaks of Nun and Kun to the southeast.

Kokernag

Situated in the heart of Bringhi valley, Kokernag (2,020 m, 70 kms from Srinagar), is set amidst sprawling gardens fragrant with the bloom of thousands of flowers. The Kokernag spring bubbles at seven places at the foot of the forested mountain. The water of the spring is famous for its medicinal and digestive properties. The spring gushes out of the base of a thickly wooded hill from where it separates into channels which bear an uncanny resemblance to the claw-foot of a hen, hence its name.

The great Mughal historian, Abul Fazl, has chronicled for posterity the benefits of the sweet water spring of Kokernag. This beneficent gift of nature is still regarded as having extraordinary healing powers and the sick are brought here for treatment by its waters and solitude. Kokernag is also known therefore, and most aptly, as Papashudan Nag or sin-cleansing spring.

Kokernag, whether it is to drink of its curative waters or breathe in the fragrance and quiet beauty of its gardens, remains one of the loveliest of all the springs in this verdant valley. Accommodation is available at well furnished cottages and rooms at reasonable rates. Excursions can be made to Daksum, Achhabal, and Verinag.

Verinag

Located 80 kms from Srinagar at an altitude of 1,876 m, the spring of Verinag is believed to be the chief source of the river Jhelum. Construction of the octagonal base of the spring and the arcade around it was undertaken by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and completed during the reign of Shah Jahan. Down the stream to the east lie the remains of a Mughal pavilion and baths. Verinag can be approached through the link road, which turns off, from the national highway at Lower Munda.

Dal Lake

In Srinagar's Aquatic Plaza around the lake. The lake itself is connected to a number of other lakes of the valley. It is well known for its shikaras or houseboats. Most of the House Boats are around in Dal Lake. From the Lake one can see the Historic Shankara Charya Hill in the east and the west Hari Parbat. During the winter season the lake sometimes freezes over. Water hyacinths and silt are the major problems affecting the lake. Most of the shore of the Lake is a boulevard, lined with Mughal-era gardens, parks, and high-end hotels.

Dal Lake is situated on the outskirts of Srinagar and is a vast expanse of water, five miles long and nearly half a mile broad (Previously 9 miles long). It is divided by causeways into several portions, each of which has a number of minor offshoots with floating gardens. The lake is surrounded on all sides by places of picturesque beauty and charm. As we start from the Dal Gate along the famous boulevard, the replica of Marine Drive, we see on our right a pyramidal hill, one thousand feet in height, at the top of which stands the ancient stone temple of splendid charm.

Wular Lake

Wular Lake is the largest fresh water lake in Asia and measures 24 kms across and surrounded by towering mountains. The jade green water of the Wular Lake swirl gently around a curious bubbling spring in the middle of the lake. There is a small picturesque island that was once the pleasure resort of a great king of Kashmir, Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin.

It plays a significant role in the hydrographic system of the Kashmir valley by acting as a huge absorption basin for the annual floodwaters. The lake, along with the extensive marshes surrounding it, is an important natural habitat for wildlife. It is also an important habitat for fish, accounting for 60 per cent of the total fish production within the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The lake is a source of livelihood for a large human population living along its fringes. The catchment area of the lake supports magnificent coniferous forests, alpine pastures and orchards, adding to the natural beauty and biodiversity of the wetland area. The lake acts as a huge absorption basin for floodwaters and regulates the water regime of the region. The lake along with its satellite wetlands, is a suitable wintering site for a number of migratory waterfowl species such as the common teal, pintail, shoveller, common pochard, mallard and others. It is an important habitat for fish and contributes about 60 percent of the fish yield of the Kashmir valley. The lake sustains a number of endangered and endemic species of flora and fauna.

The Wular lake is an important habitat for the fish fauna of the region. It provides about 60 per cent of the fish yield of the Kashmir region. The dominant fish species found in the Wular are: Cyprinus carpio, Barbus conchonius, Gambusia affinis, Nemacheilus sp., Crossocheilus latius, Schizothorax curvifrons, S.esocinus, S.planifrons, S.micropogon, S.longipinus and S.niger. The Wular lake with its characteristic features sustains a rich population of avifauna. Terrestrial birds observed around the lake are the black - eared kite, sparrow hawk, short - toed eagle, Himalayan golden eagle, hawks and vultures, monal pheasant, chukar partridge, kiklas pheasant, blue rock pigeon, cuckoo, small cuckoo, alpine swift, Kashmir roller, Himalayan pied woodpecker, hoopoe, common swallow, golden oriole and others.

Manasbal Lake

Manasbal Lake is located about 30 km north of Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir State. It has predominantly rural surroundings with three villages, Kondabal, Jarokbal and Gratbal overlooking the lake. Manasbal is considered as the 'supreme gem of all Kashmir lakes' with lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) nowhere more abundant or beautiful than on the margins of this lake during July and August. It is the deepest lake of Kashmir valley and perhaps the only one that develops stable summer stratification. Manasbal is classified as warm monomictic lake and circulates once in a year for a short time.

The other lakes in the region either have weak stratification or are polymictic. Close to the northern shore are the ruins of a fort which was built in 17th century by a Moghul king to cater the needs of caravans that used to travel from Panjab to Srinagar. On the south, overlooking the lake is a hillock-Ahtung which is used for limestone extraction. The eastern part is mainly mountainous and towards the north is an elevated plateau known as 'Karewa' consisting of lacustrine, fluviatile and loessic deposits. The lake has no major inflow channels and the water supply is maintained through spring water inflow and precipitation. An outlet channel connects the lake with the Jhelum River. The outflow of water is regulated artificially.

The local population uses the lake as a source of water, for fishing and for obtaining food and fodder plants. Many people are involved in harvesting and marketing of lotus rootstocks which are extensively eaten in the State. In recent years, tourism has caught up with the Manasbal Lake in a big way and as a consequence there are lots of pressure on the terrestrial ecosystem which is being exploited at many places.

The origin of the lake is still unresolved but there is no denying the fact that Manasbal is very ancient. The local people believe in the legend that the lake is bottomless. Over the years as a result of human pressure the lake has become eutrophic. The water body is virtually choked with submerged weeds particularly during summer which is the high tourist season. The deep water layers become anoxic with considerable accumulation of hydrogen sulphide.

Nigeen Lake

Leading from the Dal is the smaller Nagin Lake. Nagin Lake, which is usually thought of as a separate lake, is also divided from Dal Lake only by a causeway. The causeways are mostly suitable for walkers and bicycles only so they make a very pleasant way of seeing the lake without having to worry about traffic or Shikaras. The main causeway across the lake carries the water pipeline for Srinagar's mains water supply.

Here too, the waters are edged by trees of willow and poplar whose reflection is mirrored in the lake. 'Bathing boats' here, as well as on the Dal, hire out water-skis and motor launches. The waters of the lakes are pleasantly cool from mid-May to mid-September. Shikaras can be hired from any of the steps called 'ghats' (jetties) leading to the lake. Some rides are fixed and their rates are posted at each ghat as well as opposite the Tourist Reception Centre. Shikaras are a refreshingly novel way of seeing Srinagar by day and at twilight, the gentle soothing motion of the boat, as it glides along the water, is unbelievably romantic.

Nagin lake lies to the east of the city at the foot of the Zabarwan Mountain. The Shankaracharya hill (Takht-i-Sulaiman) is to the south and Hari Parbat on its west. The lake is 6x3 km and is divided by causeways into four parts. Gagribal, Lakut-dal, Bod-dal and Nagin. Lokut-dal and Bod-dal each have an island in the centre, called Rup Lank or Char Chinari and Sona Lank, respectively.

Gurez Valley

Ultimate adventure destination to the north of Kashrnir, Gurez, is a gateway to the famous silk route across central Asia. The pyramid shaped peak named after famous Kashmiri poetess Habba Khatoon is most fascinating peak of Kashmir. The emperor Yousuf Shah Chak who is said to be a Dard from Gilgit entered into Kashmir through Gurez. It is believed that when emperor was imprisoned by the King Akbar, his beloved Habba Khafton used to wander near the peak to look for her lover. The roar of mighty Kishan-Ganga river flowing across the valley, resonotes with surrounding mountains that lulls a visitors to sound sleep.The traditional log wood houses make Gurez no less than a European country side. People of Gurez valley are Dards, they speak Sheena language and have their ancestral connection with Gilgit similar to Kashmiri people of mountain region. Though Gurez is a far flung area but the people of the Dard race have uplifted themselves by the hard work and proper education. Dard women are fair with athletic built, who spend the summer in collecting wood from mountains for the harsh winter; when it is impossible to move in 20 feet out side.

The trekking Routes from Gurez and Tile lead upto Gangabal and Sonamorg to its east and Drass , Dahanu and Zanskar to its north. The Kishen Ganga river in Gurez offers easy level of stream for Rofting and tough ones from Tilel. Some of the mountains have absolutely challenging scope for Rock Climbing.Trout fishing is a frequent sport among locals who through in a line to get descent meal for the day. Anglers con be delighted to catch a brown trout in the Kishen Ganga River or the streams coming down from the mountains. Gurez has lovely compsites where the tents can be pitched near the river.

20 km from Gurez ,the awesome villages of Tilel have log wood houses which perfectly add to the magnificent view of mountains full of pine and fir trees. The road from Gurez to Tilel is just 7 years old, which has been extended upto Drass in Kargil region. The rugged and tough life of people of Tilel can make a visitor to contribute for promotion of the destination in one way or the other.

For 7 hours journey Srinagar-Gurez, one has to take the Sumbal-Bandipur road. Bandipur town at a distance of 58 km offers spectacular view of famous Manasbal and Wular Lake. An uphill journey from Bandipur to Razdon pass 3300m has a breathtaking view points where one can stop for a photo shot.Shrine of Peer Bubo atop Razdon pass is looked after by the army regiment on duty in the Gurez region. The saint had come from Lahore in 1933 and was buried at Razdan pass. The down hill road from Razdan reaches to the small village of Kunzalwan ,where border is just across the hills. The a famous tributary of Jhelum / Kishan Ganga river with a length of 180 miles ,rises in extreme eastern Tilel and flows westwards joined by Raman Sind and Burzil stream . Kishen ganga river starts and re-enters to Pakistan via Gurez valley. A plain road journey of more than an hour makes a way to the most spectacular view of Habba Khatoon peak (a limestone mountain) in Gurez.

SRTC & private bus service are available from Sringar to Bandipore through the day. Whereas early morning bus service upto Gurez is available from Bandipur town. The Jeep type vehicles are available at Taxi stands from Srinagar and Bandipore. The Gurez-bandipur road remains closed during the winter due to heavy snow fall in the hills.

For a 3to6 days tour to Gurez, arrangements can be made at tourists office Srinagar Tented accommodation to be arranged from Srinagar is the only option available for night stays in Gurez can be arranged for stay in Gurez valley Gurez valley The assistance of a registered travel agent of Kashmir is strongly recommended.

Bungus Valley

A virgin volley called Bungus at an average altitude of 3500m, around 150 km from Srinagai this valley is about 20 km long and 15 km wide. Situated on the other side of Lolab valley. Postures of the Bungus valley have finest grass which is considered ideal for cattle grazing, the valley is supposed to have been discovered by a nomad while grazing his cattle in deep forests. Word Bungus is derived from joining two words 'Bun' which means forest and 'Gus' that means the grass .The valley with rugged terrains and the lush meadows is ideal for the jeep safaris.

Surrounded by Shamsberry Range and Leepa Valle, some areas of the valley are at a stone throw distance from the line of control between India and Pakistan. Connected by the bus service from Magam in Handwara town (district Kupwara), tourists are recommended to take assistance of travel agents for the conducted tours. There is no adequate infrastructure for the overnight stay and the local transport to these places is not so regular Travel agents assistance is highly recommended.

Bungus is an upcoming destination that will soon see its place in the tourist map of the state. It is one of the virgin destinations where the avid travelers look forward to visit.