We are on the last leg of our Ladakh trip at Srinagar. Srinagar is famous for its house boats and Mughal Gardens. It is the summer capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It lies on the banks of Jhelum River and Dal Lake. The shore line of the Dal Lake is about 15.5 km and encompassed by a boulevard lined with Mughal era gardens, parks, house boats and hotels. Scenic view of the lake can be witnessed from the shore line Mughal gardens of Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bag built during the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir. During winter the temperature sometimes reaches -11°C, freezing the lake. The lake covers an area of 18 square kilometers.
Houseboats and Dal are widely associated with Srinagar and are nicknamed “floating palaces”, built according to British customs. The houseboats are generally made from local cedar wood and measure 24-38 meters in length and 3-6 meters in width and graded in a similar fashion to hotels according to level of comfort. Many of them have lavishly furnished rooms with verandas and terrace to serve as sun-deck or to serve evening cocktails. They are mainly moored along the western periphery of the lake, close to the lakeside boulevard in the vicinity of the Dal Lake and on small islands in the lake. They are anchored individually with interconnecting bridges providing access from one boat to the other.
Another important attraction in Srinagar is the Shikara, a type of wooden boat found in Dal Lake. Shikaras are of varied sizes and are used for multiple purposes including transportation of people. A usual Shikara, seats half a dozen people with the driver paddling at the rear. Like the Venetian gondolas they are a cultural symbol of Kashmir. They are also used for fishing, harvesting aquatic vegetation (usually for fodder) and transport. They are made of local Cedar wood, which does not decompose in water.
The Hazaratbal Shrine situated on the left bank of Dal Lake is considered to be the holiest Shrine in Kashmir. It contains a relic, believed to be a hair of Prophet Muhammad. The name of the shrine comes from the Urdu word Hazrat meaning “respected” and Kashmiri word bal meaning “place”. Thus it means the place which is given high regards and is respected among people.
Hari Parbat or Koe-e-Maran is a hill overlooking Srinagar and the site of the Durrani Fort. The hill has notable religious dimension for the Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs alike.
An eventful Ladakh trip is getting over here. We need to reach Jammu by noon so as to catch a flight to Delhi and then to Mumbai.