Before the insurgency intensified in 1989, tourism formed an important part of the Kashmiri economy. The tourism economy in the Kashmir valley was worst hit. However, the holy shrines of Jammu and the Buddhist monasteries of Ladakh continue to remain popular pilgrimage and tourism destinations. I am taking here about the divine .....Srinagar!! It is in its natural state is heaven on earth. And when you put in the Shikaras on the still water of Dal Lake, the apple orchards and the Mughal Gardens, it just adds to the beauty of this city. This city will always reminds you of the Royal Mughal Empire by its red sandstone and white marble monuments and mausoleums, its solemn and beautiful mosques ,bright array of stationary houseboats form a colorful scene and its intricate, sprawling gardens. These gardens symbolized the beauty of paradise itself. With its beauty and climatic conditions Srinagar became the largest city and the summer capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The banks of Jhelum river and territory of Indus always contributes to its natural beauty. Srinagar is defiantly a huge contribution to the incredibility of Indian tourism and culture.A trip for almost 06-07 days is highly recommended.I stayed in a houseboat in Srinagar , Day -01 was dedicated for Dul lake. It is one of the main and the most prominent tourist attractions in the valley . Surrounded with the picturesque of Sharp mountain ranges of Pir Panjal and beautifully craved houseboats ,a spread of water attracts everyone for its very own beauty. Over 15km around, Dal Lake is Srinagar's most wanted viewers choice. The Shikaras transporting goods and men from one place to another is the backbone of this place. OVER 15 kM around Dul lake is the landmark of Srinagar. A cup of Kahawa, gondola shopping , floating market, lotus garden and Char Chinar one must not miss during this this divine trip. Day 1 was went well spent and ended while watching the colorful shadows and mesmerizing view of series of houseboats in Dul.
Day-2 was specifically kept for exploring the surrounding area and to understand local culture, food, habits and language.It started first from the series of Mugal Gardens. Its basically a group of gardens in Persian architecture with a wide spread of rectangular orientations made within a closed premises. This includes horticulture, water bodies, canals and fountains. Shalimar Bagh, Nishat Gardens and Chash-E-Shahi are the three main attractions in the city. Shalimar bagh is situated in the closest vicinity Dul lake and was build by Mugal emperor Jahangir for his wife Noor Jahan .It looks like the crown of Srinagar and is considered to be situated at the highest point of Srinagar. Nishat Gardens or Nishat Bagh is situated at the eastern side of dul lake and is the second largest garden in the city. Chash-E-Shahi is another significant feature in Kashmir tourism.The original name of this was 'Chashme Sahibi' . This is the royal spring. Its a royal retreat to everyone present around. Seeing and admiring the beauty and architecture had fetch my whole day.
Day-3 A very unique thing what I discovered was Sri shankaracharya Temple in Srinagar is also known as the Jyesteshwara temple or Pas-Pahar by Buddhists. It was a good and religious start for my soul. This temple is situated at a hill named on the name of Shankaracharya and is known as Shankaracharya Hill . Post completion of my visit to the spritual Adi Shankaracharya Shiva temple I could not stop having another Shikara ride to Char-Chinar. Its a island in Dul lake marked with Chinar trees. Chinar trees characteristically grow in Himalaya specifically in this region and add lots of beauty to this paradise. Chinar have always been adding value to Kashmiri tradition. Every part of this tree have been contributing to the culture and development of kashmir. And now it was the time to hit the kashmiri markets. Kasmiri Markets are full of vibrant colors, happy people and a warmth in everything. I reached Lal Chowk for some woolens and souvenir shopping. Best of the Pashmina and Kashmiri handicrafts dry fruits and ethnic dongra jewelry. Apricots, figs, dates and raisins are some of the dry fruits that can be bought here. With this ,the day ended sitting at the Lake side fine dining restra.
Day-4/5 Was bright and shiny and allowed me to explore more of kashmir. I picked up my fresh itinerary for going to Gulmurg . Situated at Baramulla district in the state of Kashmir. Almost at a distance of 2 Hrs by road from Srinagar. The town is encircled by snow-capped peaks,one of the most wanted is Mt Affarwat, which can be easily accessed by Gulmarg Gondola. I have been one of those fortunate people who could explore this going till gondola phase- II which is now discontinued. Exploring the apple peach and apricot orchids in the valley my first target was to hit gondola and reach the top. It was an extremely accomplished feeling seeing myself on the top of Gulmarg. It is a very small town full of sporty people. Lots of sports amenities are provided to enhance tourism. One must visit the Himalayan Mountaineering school situated in the middle of Gulmarg and a long stole in the lush green meadows is a must do. I stayed at Khyber Himalayan Resort and they accommodated us really well. Their food and cozy atmosphere is itself well organized and one doesn't feel like leaving the resort. The most prominent thing in Gulmarg is Shiva Temple in the middle of the valley which has a lot of tourist attractions inspired by the famous Bollywood song "Jai Jai Shiv Shankar" from the movie "Aap ki kasam". Day-06 was my comeback day . Bags were packed and i was ready to depart leaving my heart behind and with the only thought Alas!! i could have stayed for a little more. With this I accomplished my most desired destinations Kashmir. In the end i would say that Kashmir has always been more than a mere place. It has the quality of an experience, or a state of mind, or perhaps an ideal......and i found it actually is :)