Best Time to Visit Srinagar and What to Do
May it be the mountains and hills coloured in shades of green and flecks of white, shikara boat rides slowly making their way on the pristine clean water of Dal Lake, nature in full bloom flaunting its beauty from every direction or the colourful chaos of people decked in traditional outfits making their way through the lanes and markets - Srinagar is a sight to behold.
The name Srinagar has two etymologies originating from the ancient Sanskrit language. The term surya-nagar meaning ‘city of the sun’ which eventually transformed into Srinagar. The other etymology states that Srinagar is actually made up of two Sanskrit words - sri meaning ‘venerable or celebrated’ and nagar meaning ‘city’, together meaning ‘city of wealth’.
From the best time to visit Srinagar to some must-do things to do in Srinagar, take a look at our Srinagar travel guide:
Unlike most cities in India which are ideal for tourism during the winter months of November to February, the best time to visit Srinagar is during April to October. Srinagar is blessed with incredibly cool weather all throughout the year but during winter, it becomes slightly difficult to enjoy the views and most roads end up getting blocked, putting a damper on your plans for the day. But if your main reason to visit is for the skiing and snowboarding experience at Gulmarg, then its better to travel to Srinagar when winter sets in.
Wondering how to reach Srinagar and what transport options are available? If you are travelling in from Mumbai, Delhi, Chandigarh, Jammu or Leh, there are domestic flights available that land at Srinagar International Airport. There are the occasional International flights that directly land in the city as well. In terms of railways options for how to reach Srinagar, there are no direct trains to Srinagar. The closest railway stops are Jammu Tawi and Udhampur. You will have to make note of what station connects to your city and accordingly, book train tickets. From either of these train stations, you can take a taxi ride or a cable car ride to Srinagar. Last but not the least, taking a road trip is possible too. You can travel from Leh, Chandigarh or Delhi and enjoy stunning views as your make your way up and down the roads.
You can go skiing or snowboarding with a stunning view of the Himalayas and the smell of fresh snow to keep the adrenaline going. Take a ride in the highest Gondola ski lift in the world and enjoy the surrounding beauty that is bound to leave you speechless. For those who are not keen on the snow activities, you can try your hand at golfing at the highest golf course in the world! The best time to visit Srinagar for a trip to Gulmarg would be between December to March. Gulmarg has grown as a popular tourist site during the last few years and has a few resorts on location. If you want, you can also book a room at one of these resorts and stay the night at this dreamy snow land.
Want to live in a floating hotel? That’s kind of the feeling you get while staying in a houseboat! Over time, Srinagar has grown to be synonymous with houseboats and almost everybody includes it as one of one of the things to do in Srinagar. These houseboats have been designed in a manner that combines Srinagar’s culture with a touch of modernity and an overall comfortable and memorable experience. Generally, the cost of one night on the houseboat costs Rs. 1,500-2,000 (breakfast included). Oh, the view! A surreal and stunning view of Srinagar backed by the Pir Panjal mountains as you slowly drift on the Dal Lake. In fact, Club Mahindra houseboats are one of the best out there! These floating Srinagar resorts are equipped with three rooms, a common living room, dining room and balcony. You can spend a few hours sitting on the balcony and enjoy the splendid view of the Dal Lake and the snow-capped mountains. You will be treated with traditional Jammu & Kashmiri culinary delights, cooked and served by the warm and welcoming locals.
Kashmir has always been nicknamed as ‘Paradise on Earth’. Even before the Mughals claimed Kashmir, paradise gardens have always been of interest to the then residing rulers. But the Mughal emperors - Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb - took the concept of these baghs to a higher level and glorified them in the most beautiful way possible. The Mughal Gardens in Srinagar consists of Chashme Shahi, Shalimar Gardens, and Nishat Gardens. Shalimar means ‘abode of love’ and it was built by Jahangir for his beloved wife, Nur Jahan. Nishat Bagh is built by Mirza Abul Hasan on the foothills of the Zabarwan mountains. Till date, it is considered as one of the finest chahar bagh garden layouts in the Islamic world. Last but not the least, the Chashme Sahi (the royal spring) built by Ali Mardan Khan on the orders of Shah Jahan as a gift for his elder son Prince Dara Shikoh. The main attraction of this garden is a spring that emerges from the slopes of the Zabarwan mountains. These garden are a sight to behold but are open only for a short time during the year. The best time to visit Srinagar for a trip to the Mughal Gardens would be February and March.
Srinagar is a dream for any shopper who loves to splurge on local treats and trinkets. Items such as pashmina shawls, spices, dry fruits, copper utensils, wooden products and Kashmiri carpets are just some of the obvious things that can be added to your shopping list. In terms of market visits, the floating market at Dal Lake is a must. It is India’s only such market and it’s a one-of-a-kind experience purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables at this market. Apart from that, there is Lal Chowk (oldest market popular for its fare of silver jewellery and copper utensils), Polo View (best market to purchase traditional handicrafts and fabrics) and Residency Road (a spice and dry fruits heaven).
Agreed, Rogan Josh, Dum Aloo and Phirni are some of the most delicious foods but Jammu & Kashmiri food is a lot more than that. Various regional flavours and cooking methods need to be factored in while exploring the gastronomical world of Jammu & Kashmir. There are the Dogris, Kashmiri Pandits, Kashmiri Hindus, Kashmiri Muslims and maybe even more tinier regional communities that have greatly contributed in making the local food so delectable. The cuisine is meat-heavy but there are a few vegetarian dishes such as Saag, Dum Aloo and Nadru Yakhni which are a must-have. The best time to visit Srinagar for the food will be during the winter weeks since amazing mouth-watering dishes and drinks such as Noon Chai, Khatta Meat, Yakhni and Kahwa that are perfect for a cool, winter day. If you get the chance to feast on the celebratory feast called Wazwan, don’t miss out!
On the orders of Sultan Sikandar Batshik in 1394 CE, Jamia Masjid was commissioned to be built but was only completed in 1402 CE under the rule of Mir Mohammad Hamadan. With time and the growth of education in the valley, the Masjid has played a role in the growth of political consciousness apart from imparting religious education. Day after day, Jamia Masid is thronged by 100s of Kashmiri Muslims. Moreover, it’s architecture is nothing short of a wonder - the 350 pillars of the Masjid are believed to be built of a single deodar trunk and the massive courtyard is bound to take your breath away!
We have already spoken about the houseboat resorts but would also like to highlight the other choices available on hard ground. There is the R K Sarovar Portico Resort situated at the heart of Srinagar. It’s ideal location makes it convenient for people to access different nearby locations as well as fully enjoy the local life of Srinagar. There are 15 rooms in the resort out of which 10 face the mountains for a stunning view to wake up to every morning that you stay at the resort. Gulmarg and Sonmarg are just a few minutes away from the resort so those can be included in your day’s list of things to do in Srinagar after a wholesome breakfast at the resort.
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