Srinagar

Dal Lake Srinagar
Looking over Srinagar from Hari Parbat
Shikara ride on Dal Lake
Srinagar Houseboat
Srinagar Houseboat
Srinagar Kashmir
Dal Lake Srinagar
Srinagar Kashmir
Kashmir carpet shopping in Srinagar
Old Srinagar - shop lined laneways
Srinagar is predominantly Muslim
Jamia Masjid, the largest mosque in Srinagar
Iconic Srinagar view
Old Srinagar
Khanqah Shah-i-Hamadan Mosque
Srinagar shopping on the houseboat
Dal Lake is abuzz with merchants selling their wares
Shakara tour on Dal Lake
The waterways of Dal Lake has many shops
Alcohol is hard to come by in Srinagar

Srinagar

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Srinagar

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Srinagar is the gateway to any ski or snowboard trip in Gulmarg in Kashmir. Other than being the entry and exit point for Gulmarg, Srinagar also makes an interesting stopover in itself with the famed Srinagar houseboats on Dal Lake, the mosques, shopping for unique Kashmir handicrafts, and its renowned gardens (even though they’re often snow covered in winter). The streets of Srinagar are lined with armed soldiers which is an unusual sight for most tourists, and it’s wise to always check the latest on the security situation before you visit.

The city of Srinagar has a population of about a million people and is the capital of the Jammu and Kashmir state in India, but only in the summer because they couldn’t decide on whether Jammu or Srinagar should be the permanent capital!

Where is Srinagar?

Srinagar is the northernmost city of India, located in the Kashmir region and the largest city of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It lies in the Kashmir Valley with Himalayan Mountains on either side.

The Srinagar Airport (SXR) receives direct flights from Mumbai and Delhi. For international travellers, there are flights into Delhi via Colombo that allow for a same day transfer to Srinagar, but most flight schedules necessitate a stop-over in a Delhi Airport Hotel (Aerocity Hotels) for a night. You can look at flight schedules here.

For getting around Srinagar there are a few options, but to get the most out of the city safely and with minimal hassle, you may want to consider being on a tour that includes transport. Otherwise there are plenty of taxis (pre-paid is the best so you don’t get ripped off) and auto rickshaws (tuk tuk), or the shikara boats are the taxis of Dal Lake.

Srinagar Houseboats

A stay on a Srinagar houseboat (aka Kashmir houseboat) on Dal Lake seems to be a popular adjunct to a Gulmarg trip. The lifestyle of those that live on Dal Lake is absolutely fascinating, but comments such as it being the “Venice of Asia” are laughable at best, downright deceptive at worst! And don’t conjure up thoughts of floating around the lake on a houseboat because the boats are all anchored and some are even moored to land. The latter can be accessed via road, whilst most can only be accessed by shikara, the cool little wooden boats that are paddled around with the driver at the rear (which is possibly why people make parallels with Venice and its gondolas).

The Srinagar houseboats are located predominantly on Dal Lake but also on Nigeen Lake. The houseboats were built by the British many years ago when the Brits were not allowed to own land in Kashmir. Now the houseboats have a combination of old world colonial style and classic Kashmiri décor, and wooden carvings on the exteriors.

You can stay on one of the many houseboats, but you’ll want to check for quality as some are just downright dodgy. The Srinagar houseboats have quality ratings that start at D Grade and go up to A Grade and then deluxe. Don’t assume this means “deluxe” like a 4 star hotel, yet deluxe boats should include ensuited rooms, hot water, some form of heating, a comfortable living area and meals. We stayed on the Chicago Houseboats which fit into this category and were quite nice.

As to be expected, the houseboats are not well sound proofed and you’ll definitely hear the dulcet tones of the pre dawn ‘Call to Prayer’ blaring from speakers at the local mosque to set the scene for the day (yes, I did write pre-dawn!).

Dal Lake is full of male hawkers in their shikaras wearing their phiran, selling all manner of wares. This will appeal to some but will test the resolve and patience of even the most hardened shopper. The traders that arrive at your houseboat appear to be in cahoots with some of the houseboat operators so turning them away becomes difficult. Definitely don’t let them inside the houseboat.

The waterways are extensive and it’s worth going on a shakara tour to explore the lake. Since you’ll be awake from the loud call to prayer before first light, you could go on a sunrise tour of the floating food market.

Srinagar Accommodation

Staying on a Kashmir houseboat is quintessential Srinagar, but if you want to be on land there are lots of Srinagar hotels for a range of budgets.

Srinagar Houseboat and Hotel Listings  


Activities

Prudent travellers will have a tour guide to take in the sights of Srinagar to assist with any difficulties encountered along the way, ensure you don’t make any faux par at a mosque, and take you shopping for local specialties.

A journey into Old Srinagar is an eye, ear and nose popping experience and it’s fun to wander around the little shop-lined laneways and watch the women in their burkas strolling to the Khanqah Shah-i-Hamadan Mosque.

Or you can visit other mosques such as the Jamia Masjid, the largest in Srinagar, or get a car up to the Shankaracharya Mandir, a hilltop temple that’s a Hindu haven in a predominantly Muslim city. Or visit Hari Parbat, an old fort which sits on a hill overlooking Srinagar and the site of little temples and Muslim shrines.

Shopping

When you’re shopping in Delhi, many of the merchants proudly sell Kashmir handicrafts, so it seems more fitting to actually buy them when you’re in Kashmir rather than Delhi. Kashmir carpets are a prized purchase and other Srinagar industries include copperware and wood carving with walnut. Other Kashmir handicrafts are the world renowned pashminas and the colourful papier-mâché products such as vases and furniture.

Some of the vendors are rather pushy, particularly on Dal Lake, and considering the plight of many Kashmiris, their desperation is probably excusable. You’ll quickly learn your own methods of how to get rid of them if you don’t want to make a purchase.
Tours That Include Srinagar

Backcountry Skiing Tours

Bills Trips Gulmarg Tour
GUIDED OFF-PISTE & BC ADVENTURE
14 Nights | 12 Days of Riding
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Experience the best of Gulmarg with Bill Barker. Premium offering with very experienced & highly qualified guides, low guest to guide ratio plus local tail guides, & stay in a charming deluxe hotel. Endless lines of fresh snow in the off-piste and backcountry. Join a fixed-date tour or enquire for a custom group tour
Price p/p From price based on twin/double-share option.
Base/invoice currency is in AUD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
AUD 6,490
View Details
 
TAP Gulmarg Tour
GUIDED OFF-PISTE & BC ADVENTURE
10 Nights | 8 Days Skiing | Gulmarg, India
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Gulmarg has arguably the best lift-accessible side country in the world! This 10 night tour provides a solid 8 days of guided skiing & riding the best of the terrain in the best available snow on each day. Accommodation is at 4-star Rosewood Hotel and the tour includes a night on Dal Lake.
Price p/p From price based on twin/double-share room occupancy staying at Green Heights.
Base/invoice currency is in USD inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
AUD 5,399
View Details
 
See all Backcountry Skiing tours that visit Srinagar here
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