Dal Lake is 11 km from Dharamshala and surrounded by deodar trees. The lake fills a mountain bowl. The words don't do half the justice to the real beauty of the lake. Dal lake is an enchanting and serene picnic spot where an annual fair is held in September. Apart from being thronged by photography enthusiasts, it really provided the elders with a lot of calm and peace.
Sringar also boasts of a very diverse religious representation along with it's incomparable natural and scenic beauty. I was pleasantly surprised to visit temples, mosques and gurudwaras in close distances of each other. Yet, the beauty and exclusivity of each was better than the other and in a league of it's own. I first visited the Shankaracharya Temple, also known as Takht-e-Suleiman. It was constructed in 371 B.C. and as such is the oldest shrine in Kashmir. The location commands a magnificent panoramic view of the entire Srinagar city. Then I moved on to visit Imambara Hassanabad, which was a developed city during the Mughal rule. It is the 2nd oldest shrine and is a world famous place of mourning and worship of one million shia population of J&K. Like I mentioned earlier, on one side of the Imambara was the Chatti Padshahi Sikh Gurudwara which is a must stop for all the sikhs coming to Srinagar.
Nishat Garden is situated on the banks of the picturesque Dal Lake, with the Zabarwan Mountains forming its backdrop. Also known as the garden of bliss, it was laid out in 1633 by Asaf Khan, the elder brother of Nur Jahan. Designed in Persian style, this is a 12-terrace garden interspersed with fountains, colourful flowerbeds and lush green lawns.
A major part of Sringar and Kashmir in fact, has sprawling lush green gardens with the most beautifully landscaped flower beds and fountains amidst structures which date back to almost the late 16th century. I decided to see a few for myself and visited Shalimar Garden first. Situated 15 Kms from the city centre, it was built by Emperor Jahangir for his beloved wife, Nurjahan. Shalimar gets water from Harwan through a canal lined with fountains. These fountains were the main attraction for the tourists and children alike. Next I moved to Cheshma Shahi, or the Royal Spring was laid by Shah Jahan and Pari Mahal. The spring is famous for refreshing digestive water. After refreshing myself with water from the spring, I went 2kms uphill to reach Pari Mahal. The different views from the 7 terraces Srinagar felt surreal and I stood admiring the natural beauty for many a minutes.
Unlike its more popular counterpart Dal Lake, Nigeen Lake is a quieter, more peaceful & far less commercialized lake to stay on. Lined by some beautifully carved wooden houseboats, you could spot the occasional egret in the water & the many shikaras floating by, trying to sell their wares.Bashir ji, our very entertaining shikara guy, as instructed by Mr. Wangnu, decided to row us down all the way from Nigeen Lake to Dal Lake so that we could not only rest on the shikara post a very welcome ‘dal-chawal’ lunch at the houseboat, but also enjoy the serene beauty of the Kashmiri water bodies.We aimlessly floated for more than 2 hours through still waters, thick layers of algae & endless lengths of lilly gardens – to quickly realize that poor Bashir ji wasn’t being able to steer us through the floating vegetable garden because the wind was against us & refused to let us move ahead. Much to our amazement, totally undeterred Bashir ji broke into some popular Kashmiri songs & kept rowing, ably supported for sometime by one of us, who decided to row along & make the shikara move faster.
Chashme Shahi Gardens
Chashme Shahi, an ancient garden established in 1632 by Emperor Shah Jahan, is considered to be one of the smallest Mughal gardens in Srinagar. Divided into three different sections with an aqueduct, waterfalls and fountains, it provides magnificent views of the Himalayas and the Dal Lake.
Nishat Mughal Gardens
If you have time and a car then travel to kashmir.Himachal pardesh lies in lower range of Himalayas (highest elevation point is above 6000m, but road after manali is risky) where as kashmir lies in zanskar range and greater himalayan range. Following are the points that makes it reasonable to travel to kashmir1) if you are going by road. You love driving ? This is the road for you. From jammu to srinagar it will take straight 9 to 10 hrs. The road is in excellent condition NH1 (GT road) road becomes narrow after Banihal. Might get a little traffic jam in patni topStill the road is not broken till batote village Where it gets little bumpy for 500 m .view will be mesmerizing might fall in love with it. Srinagar is valley surrounded by peaks ( from a point you can even see patni top) If you ask somebody "where should a tourist go"Answer will be - Pahalgam,gulmarg, sonemarg,Dal lake, these are some common tourist destinations.A) So if you are going to Pahalgam the road again is in very well condition ( a stream will be following the road !B) If you are going to gulmarg it is also very nice road ! Dont be in shock if you see some autorikshaw going there. C) if you are going to sonemarg ! The road is nice but will face traffic jam consuming 2-3 hours (only if you travel in amarnath yatra's time). The road then becomes dangourous when you travel a bit more higher to zojila pass the road is quiet scary actually there is no road just pebbles you are driving on with heavy traffic and army convoys makes it terrible.Nevertheless when you reach zojila pass you'll forget everything ! 2) places to hide away from stubborn crowd ! If you love peace and want to alone These are some places and advice A) Pahalgam- As soon as you enter Pahalgam pony wala's will be following you offering the most crowded destination. Advice- ignore them, book a hotel online (if travelling in peak season) for convince. Roam in the markets the day you reach. Dont just start trekking the same day. Wake up early in morning like 7 am. Go to any pony wala ! Ask them to take you to #tulian valley. If they try to manipulate your decision for tulian and say they'll take to baisaran dont ever say "ohky" ( baisaran or mini Switzerland are most crowded place in Pahalgam). Go to tulian no where else. (15km trek)( see my next blog to find more about pahlgam and place where peace prevails)B) if you are going to gulmarg -Gulmarg is place where every tourist will Definetly go. There is no hide away from crowd actually ! But if you are high on budget you can go to hotel Khyber ! From where you can have a pleasant view of gulmarg's peaks ( a blog will be published about gulmarg soon ) C) if you are going to sonamarg - sonamarg can give you instant chills but its  crowded there too ! Sonemarg is place where tourists prefer to go less than pahalgam and gulmarg as it is far from srinagar and is the only highway that connects srinagar to leh ! The traffic is main problem there. If you dont want to stuck there. Go even higher to zojila pass ! Where crowd is little less ! The main thing about sonamarg is change in  terrains one hand you can see green mountains with vegetation and on the other hand the peaks straight up, sky touching greyish peaks that represent the ladakhi mountains ! ( a blog about region between srinagar and kargil will be published soon)3) dont go with MMT or others If you really want to enjoy this trip go solo Go with friends or family not in packages These packages will bound you in time and the trip will become miserable ! - travelling to kashmir is far better than travelling to himachal pardesh as long as you are not planing it to leh ! Stay away from crowded places and overrated places in himchal pardesh !
4. ShoppingVisit the famous Lal Chowk for your winter shopping spree. Kashmiri Pashmina shawls and local dry fruits are the main items that you can buy for your family back at home. you can also buy other handicraft works like paper mache, wood carving work, etc. It is recommended that you bargain for prices to get the best deals.5. Experience local culture.
Surrounded by Pir Panjal ranges, Dal Lake has been globally known for its natural beauty, serenity, houseboats, Shikaras, floating markets, floating gardens and many more things. After Wular Lake, it is the second largest lake of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Being an integral part of state’s tourism sector, it is often called as ‘The Jewel on the Crown of Kashmir’. The 15.5 km long shorelines of the lake is encompassed by commercial and tourists places like Boulevard Road, Dal Gate, Nishat Bagh, Shalimar Bagh, Hazrat Bal and large numbers of houseboats and hotels. From the wooden balconies of the houseboats of Dal Lake, tourists can enjoy breathtaking views of snow capped mountain ranges of Himalaya, sunset, bird life, and cruising Shikaras and so on and so forth.
Srinagar - Leh Highway
To better acclimatize for the expedition, my trek mates and I deliberately flew to Srinagar and planned to travel by road to Leh. But, the minute we landed in Srinagar our cab driver told us about the cloud burst and landslides in the region due to which the Srinagar-Leh highway was blocked. Our trek was to start in 3 days and we were perturbed by the situation and gave up on the Ladakh plans after waiting 2 days. On the 3rd day at 4am our cab driver called up to tell us that the BRO (Border Road Organization) had cleared up the highway. We bundled into the cab and did a straight 26hrs journey on one of the world’s deadliest roads, crossing places like Zoji La (3528m), Dras (3280m) and Kargil(2676m) in the middle of the night. We reached Leh at 7am the next day and were grateful that we had made it to our expedition start camp just in time.
Tulip Garden Srinagar
You can spend a day visiting all the gardens in Srinagar - Tulip Gardens, Shalimar, Nishat and Chashmeshahi. The gardens are well maintained and beautifully landscaped. It is enthralling to be surrounded by such greenery and riot of colors. However, if you want to see the gardens in full bloom, the best time to visit is May-June. When we were there, the flowers had just started to bloom, so even though they did look beautiful, we couldn't see them in all their splendor.
Green meadows,greenery,greenery,greenery as far as the eyes can see.Water streams in between as you proceed inside the forest are the actual sight seeing points.Rare species of plants and flowers gives us a good retrospective of our Botany knowledge.Transportation within the forest area is only by horse so horse rides!!.
National Highway 1D
Day 2 | 3rd August 2015 Enjoy the breathtaking vistas of Kashmir as we start early from Srinagar and head towards Sonamarg through NH 1D or more popularly known as the Srinagar-Leh Highway. Post Sonamarg, the ascend to Zozi La (11649 ft) begins. As we descend from Zozi La, we would finally enter the Ladakh valley. After a brief stop at the Dras War Memorial, we would head straight for Kargil. Overnight at Kargil. Drive Distance – 200 km Drive Time – 8 hours
4th day started from pahalgam iceland hotel toSinthan top one of the less known place but peaceful if we want to avoid the croud the most exiting part is the journey to that place very adventurous nt that adventourous as leh ladakh..passing through kokernag famous garden we can stop and visit and it lies in midway of ananthnag kokernag we can distantly watch the beauty of daksum too every vilage is beautifull..pretty land scapes and sinthan top at height of 12000 feet above the sea level snow painted mountains and we can view the routes to jammu and kashmir divisions from 360 degree view.trekking wil be adventurous very cold breeze even snowfal on the top very few vistors breathtaking views in journey pit waterfalls. Relaxed view
4) Winterfell CafeAs the name suggests the cafe is a Game of throne theme based cafe with GOT miniatures and quotes bringing life to the theme. The cafe is a treat for the eyes of a GOT fan and a very nice attempt to bring the GOT fans under one roof in the Stark motherland. The cafe is located just opposite the the famous Dal lake so not very difficult to find.
Some Information About Roza BalRoza Bal or Rauza Bal or Rauza Bol or Raza Bal, which means "Tomb of the Prophet".There are two tombs inside the Roza Bal (which is small wooden mausoleum) one tomb is of Ziarati Hazrati Youza Asouph or Yuz Asaph (or Asaf) and another grave is of Syed Nasir-u-Din (Islamic saint, a descendant of Imam Moosa Ali Raza, said to be a great devotee of Jesus, who buried here in 1451).As per some ancient records, that indicate that the grave of Youza Asouph or Yuz Asaph (or Asaf) is to be as far back as 112 CE.The Hebrew name of Jesus was Yuza, in Arabic or in the Koran his name was Hazrat Isa or Isa and Issa in Tibetan. Farhang-Asafia, which explains how Jesus healed some leper and then became Asaf (purified or healed) and the word Yuz mean "Leader". Yuz Asaph or Youza Asouph mean “Leader of the Healed" which pointed to Jesus Christ........................................To Read the Full Article and to See the Full AlbumPlease Visit www.BongBlogger.com
Makhdoom Sahib Road
While walking towards Makhdoom Sahib, Tabassum and Summaiya shared with me the episodes of the tragic floods of 2014 when they took shelter in the Shrine of Makhdoom Sahib along with their entire family. Thousands of Kashmiris who lost their homes and businesses in the floods stayed in the shrine for months. A natural disaster that had till now sustained in my memory only as a headline on TV, now unfolded itself in it's full affect.
To end our day we went to Hazratbal Shrine (dargah)- a holy place. It contained the hair of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. Being a girl I was not allowed to go from the front gate and I had to go from the back gate. I entered from the back gate and a policeman told me that I should cover my head. I took out my handkerchief and covered it. That man started a conversation with me- he was a polite, humble person. When I told him I was a lawyer he felt as if he had met one of his relatives. He shook my hand so tightly I almost got a jerk and he happily bade goodbye to me saying "phir aana (come again)".
Some things that mesmerised me about Srinagar were the Houseboats and back waters of Dal Lake. A shikara ride till one of the houseboats in the lake is an experience that is a must in a lifetime. As the Shikara passed through the various channels, we passed many houseboats which were managed by sincere dexterity by the locals. Kingfishers and other birds become a frequent sight once past the house boats into the backwaters. The kingfishers sit on the tops of houseboats nonchalantly almost within the touching distance of humans who seem to be equally unmindful of the birds. We moved further into the calm waters of Anchar Lake where we were in a totally different world, no crowd of boats, no motor boat engines to be heard and the mood was different altogether. It felt almost like we actually were in Venice, just with a lot of fauna instead of architectural structures.
We were warned by innumerable blogs and also by the trek leader that today would be the toughest day of the trek. We would reach an elevation as high as 13800 ft, the highest point in the entire trek aka the Gadsar pass. He pointed us at the steep ascent which we were about to climb. For a minute I thought he was joking. It almost seemed that we would be reaching the tip of the huge snow-capped mountain. But when we started trekking in the same direction I started to get all nervous. The ascent was the steepest so far and tiring. I could not move further for more than ten good minutes. If one lost balance they would be welcomed by the boulders or by freezing cold water. Adding to the miseries was the fact I had acrophobia. I stood shivering in doubt if I could reach the top. But there was only one choice. To keep moving further. After a good one and half hour when I reached the top I realized I had overcome my fear of heights! It was a proud moment personally. One can view both the lakes from here and they look lovely. Today was probably the longest so far. I really did not know for how long we kept walking. Time had ceased to exist. All we knew was that we had to reach our destination – the campsite. We met army camps on our way. Interacting with the army was perhaps a humbling experience. To have lived under the same weather conditions the army does, a wave of respect and gratitude washed us all over. Gadsar campsite was the highest point (12000 ft) where we camped. It was an eerie night because there is pitch darkness all around you and you can only see the outline of the mountains. Maybe also owing to the fact we were away from the LOC by a mere 20 kms. But the sky mesmerized all of us and everything was forgotten. The night sky looked like a huge carpet of twinkling stars, constellations, satellites and what not. Not to mention the Milky way!! One can stare at the sky till eternity and not get bored. I now get it when Calvin says If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I’ll bet they’d live a lot differently.