Your Ultimate Guide to Things to Do in Srinagar
Have you ever dreamt of embarking on a Kashmir tour, exploring a land where nature’s beauty knows no bounds, and culture and heritage stand the test of time? If so, then Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, should be at the top of your list. This enchanting city is nestled in the heart of the Kashmir Valley, surrounded by the mighty Himalayas.
Srinagar’s charm and beauty are like no other, making it a destination that beckons travelers year-round. Whether you’re visiting in the summery bloom or the snowy embrace of December, Srinagar promises unforgettable experiences.
In this blog, we’ll take you on a virtual journey through the top 10 things to do in Srinagar, helping you discover the best activities in Kashmir and the attractions this city has to offer.
1. Houseboat Stay: Experience Kashmiri Hospitality
One of the best things about visiting Srinagar is the opportunity to stay in a houseboat. These floating wooden marvels are not just hotels in Srinagar but an experience in themselves. A houseboat stay in Kashmir offers a unique and enchanting experience, immersing visitors in the heart of the stunning Himalayan landscapes while providing a taste of warm Kashmiri hospitality.
Guests can unwind on the serene Dal Lake, surrounded by majestic mountains and pristine waters, creating a tranquil escape from the bustling world. Houseboats are adorned with intricate wooden furnishings and traditional Kashmiri decor, and they serve as floating, cozy accommodations.
During your stay, you’ll be treated to delicious Kashmiri cuisine, known for its rich flavors and aromatic spices. The houseboat hosts, often local families, share their culture and traditions, making guests feel like part of the Kashmiri community. As you drift along the mirror-like lake and soak in the breathtaking scenery, you’ll truly understand the allure of Kashmiri hospitality, making your visit a memory to cherish forever.
2. Relish the Local Cuisine
Kashmiri cuisine is known for its unique blend of flavors, combining delicate aromas with a hint of spice. A must-try dish is the world-famous Rogan Josh, a succulent lamb curry cooked with aromatic spices and saffron. Another beloved dish is the Gustaba, a creamy and aromatic preparation of tender mutton.
Vegetarians can savor the Yakhni, a yogurt-based curry with spices, and the Haaq, a green leafy vegetable dish. Don’t forget to try the Kashmiri pulao, a fragrant rice dish with saffron and dry fruits.
For dessert, indulge in the Shufta, a sweet treat with nuts and dried fruits, or the Phirni, a rice pudding infused with cardamom and saffron.
Srinagar also offers a variety of street foods, like the famous Golgappas, or Pani Puri, and the warm and comforting Kahwa, a traditional tea brewed with saffron and spices.
In Srinagar, food is not just sustenance; it’s a celebration of Kashmiri culture and hospitality, making it an integral part of your visit to this charming city.
When exploring Kashmiri cuisine, it’s essential to visit some of the iconic restaurants in Kashmir. Renowned establishments like Shamyana and Mughal Darbar in Srinagar offer a taste of authentic Kashmiri delicacies. These restaurants provide an immersive experience, often with traditional wicker mats and low wooden tables, enhancing the cultural charm of the dining experience.
3. Skiing and Winter Sports
Gulmarg, a short drive from Srinagar, is renowned for its world-class skiing facilities. The Gulmarg Gondola, one of the highest cable cars in the world, whisks skiers up to the Apharwat Peak, where they can enjoy breathtaking views and access some of the best skiing slopes in the region. The powder snow and challenging terrain cater to both beginners and seasoned skiers.
Srinagar itself also boasts frozen lakes and gentle slopes that are ideal for ice skating and ice hockey. The region’s long, snowy winter season from December to February ensures a prolonged window for winter sports enthusiasts to revel in their passion.
With its snow-clad mountains and expanding array of adventure sports in Kashmir, the region has become a sought-after destination for those seeking an adrenaline rush amidst stunning winter scenery.
4. Experience the Tulip Festival
The Tulip Festival in Srinagar is a vibrant and enchanting celebration of spring’s arrival in the beautiful Kashmir Valley, specifically in the capital city, Srinagar. This annual event typically takes place at the end of March or early April when the tulips are in full bloom, transforming the landscape into a riot of colors. The festival is held in the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden, which is Asia’s largest tulip garden and home to a breathtaking variety of tulips.
The Tulip Festival in Srinagar is a week-long extravaganza that attracts tourists and locals alike. Visitors are treated to a mesmerizing display of tulips in every imaginable hue, creating a picturesque panorama against the backdrop of the majestic Zabarwan Range. The garden is meticulously landscaped, featuring fountains, water channels, and well-maintained pathways for visitors to enjoy leisurely strolls amidst the blossoms.
This festival is not just about admiring the tulips; it also offers a platform for cultural events, music, and traditional Kashmiri cuisine. Visitors can savor the local flavors and witness various art and craft exhibitions. The festival, with its natural beauty and cultural elements, showcases the essence of Kashmir’s rich heritage.
The Tulip Festival in Srinagar is an integral part of the broader tradition of celebrating spring in the region. The larger tradition of tulip festivals in Kashmir encompasses various events in different parts of the valley, each showcasing its unique natural beauty. These festivals contribute to the promotion of tourism and the preservation of the region’s rich horticultural heritage.
5. Seek Serenity in the Hazratbal Shrine
Situated on the northern shores of Dal Lake, the pristine white marble shrine stands in a serene and picturesque location, surrounded by the stunning Himalayan mountains.
The shrine is particularly renowned for its relic – a hair believed to be that of Prophet Muhammad, displayed to the public on religious occasions. The relic is housed in a glass container and showcased to the public during special religious events, drawing thousands of devotees.
The Hazratbal Shrine also has a rich history, with its construction dating back to the 17th century. The architecture is a blend of Mughal and Persian styles, featuring intricate designs and exquisite calligraphy.
Hazratbal Shrine is one of the many religious places in Kashmir that reflects the rich cultural and religious diversity of the region. It not only serves as a religious center but also as a symbol of the enduring faith and spirituality of the Kashmiri people, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking a glimpse into the spiritual and cultural tapestry of this stunning region.
6. Shikara Ride: A Peaceful Journey
For a more tranquil experience on Dal Lake, consider taking a shikara ride. The shikara ride is more than just a mode of transportation; it’s a cultural experience, a connection to the rich history of Kashmir. The gentle rhythm of the oars in the water and the sound of nature create a soothing ambiance that relaxes the mind and touches the soul. These handcrafted wooden boats are adorned with colorful canopies and intricate carvings. As you glide through the crystal-clear waters, you’ll encounter local vendors selling handicrafts, fresh flowers, and delicious snacks. These traditional wooden boats are a symbol of Srinagar’s timeless beauty, and a Shikara ride offers you a unique perspective of the city. Whether you choose a leisurely ride or a romantic sunset voyage, this experience is sure to stay in your memory for a long time.
7. Explore the Mughal Gardens: A Paradise on Earth
Srinagar is often referred to as the “City of Gardens,” and its Mughal gardens are a testament to its historical grandeur. The Shalimar Bagh, Nishat Bagh, and Chashme Shahi are a few of the renowned gardens that reflect the opulence of the Mughal era. Nishat Bagh, the Garden of Bliss, is known for its terraced layout overlooking Dal Lake, providing breathtaking views of the Himalayas. Shalimar Bagh, the Abode of Love, is celebrated for its enchanting water features, including cascading fountains. Chashme Shahi, the Royal Spring, offers a serene ambiance with its natural spring and vibrant flowerbeds.
While these gardens are spectacular throughout the year, they hold a special charm in December when the gardens are adorned with a layer of snow. Stroll through the perfectly manicured lawns and terraced gardens, taking in the beauty of intricate fountains and vibrant flower beds. It’s a unique experience that allows you to witness the fusion of nature and history.
8. Old City Exploration: A Glimpse into History
Wandering through the narrow, winding alleys, you’ll encounter centuries-old wooden houses, intricately carved balconies, and ornate Mughal-style gardens that transport you to a bygone era. The ancient Shah Hamdan’s shrine, with its wooden latticework, stands as a symbol of religious harmony and craftsmanship.
Meander along the Jhelum River, where you can witness the bustling floating markets, a tradition passed down through generations. The historic Jamia Masjid, built in 1400, showcases Persian and Indo-Saracenic architectural influences.
As you stroll through the bazaars, the fragrant aroma of spices and the vibrant colors of handicrafts envelop your senses. The Old City is not just a visual delight but also a culinary adventure. Savor the traditional Wazwan cuisine and warm Kahwa tea in traditional Kashmiri settings.
This timeless Old City resonates with the history, culture, and enduring spirit of Srinagar, making it a must-visit for anyone seeking to uncover the essence of this enchanting region.
9. Attend a Traditional Wedding
Kashmiri weddings are a grand affair, and if you have the chance to attend one, it’s an experience you won’t forget. The ceremonies are a celebration of culture, with elaborate rituals and vibrant clothing. Traditional folk music and dance performances are an integral part of these weddings, and you’ll get to witness the warmth and hospitality of the Kashmiri people. If you’re lucky, you might even be invited to participate in the celebrations.
10. Pay a visit to Shankaracharya Temple
Perched on a hill, the temple offers not only spiritual solace but also breathtaking panoramic views of the picturesque Dal Lake and the city of Srinagar. To reach the temple, visitors must climb a steep flight of stone steps that wind through a serene forest, adding to the spiritual aura of the place.
The serene ambiance, intricate architecture, and the sense of serenity at the Shankaracharya Temple make it a must-visit destination for pilgrims, tourists, and history enthusiasts alike.
For visitors, it’s not just a pilgrimage but also an opportunity to embrace the beauty and spirituality of Srinagar while paying homage to Lord Shiva in this sacred abode on the hill.
Srinagar, the jewel of Kashmir…
Srinagar is a destination that captures the hearts of travelers, and it’s not limited to any particular season. However, visiting Srinagar in December provides a unique experience, with the city’s charm heightened by the winter’s embrace. From enchanting houseboats on Dal Lake to the serenity of Mughal gardens, the historic charm of the Old City to exhilarating winter sports in Gulmarg, Srinagar offers an array of experiences that will leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime.
Srinagar, with its timeless appeal and natural wonders, awaits your visit. Embrace the crisp winter air, enjoy the warmth of local hospitality, and let the magic of this city captivate your soul. Don’t wait; embark on this incredible journey to discover the best things to do in Srinagar and create memories that will last a lifetime.
What are the must-visit attractions in Srinagar?
Must-visit attractions in Srinagar, India, include Dal Lake for shikara rides, Mughal Gardens like Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh, Shankaracharya Temple for panoramic views, and the bustling Old City with its historic architecture and vibrant markets. Additionally, exploring local handicrafts and savoring Kashmiri cuisine is essential.
Is a Shikara ride on Dal Lake a must-do activity in Srinagar?
Yes, a Shikara ride on Dal Lake is a must-do activity in Srinagar. It offers a serene and picturesque experience, allowing visitors to explore the lake’s beauty, floating gardens, and local culture. The tranquility and scenic views make it a highlight of a trip to Kashmir.
What are some adventure activities available in Srinagar?
In Srinagar, adventure enthusiasts can enjoy activities like trekking in the stunning Himalayan landscapes, river rafting on the Lidder and Sindh rivers, camping in picturesque locations, and exploring the region’s pristine lakes, including Dal Lake, on shikara rides. Additionally, paragliding and horse riding are popular adventure options in the area.
What is the best time to visit Srinagar for outdoor activities?
The best time to visit Srinagar for outdoor activities is during the spring and summer months, from April to June. The weather is pleasant, and you can enjoy activities like boating on Dal Lake, trekking in the surrounding hills, and exploring gardens in full bloom, such as the Mughal Gardens.