Srinagar – India
Escape to one of India’s most idyllic and hidden cities, nestled in the shadows of the Himalaya Mountains. Srinagar is home to some of the world’s finest gardens, in particular the Mughal gardens. Developed some 400 years ago, the three Mughal Gardens of Chesmashahi, Nishat and Shalimar are the Mughal Emperors' concept of paradise. It’s easy to see why, with an array of beautiful terraced lawns, incredible cascading fountains and bright flowerbeds filling the glorious gardens. The stunning white Hazratbal Mosque is another gem of Srinagar, while Dal Lake is simply stunning. Visitors can take a ride on the gondola-like Shikara’s, or water taxis, across the vast sheet of water that echoes the hazy peaks of the Pir Panjal mountains. Staying in a houseboat on the lake is the key to immersing oneself in the picturesque Indian surroundings. Whether it’s trekking in the striking mountains, or shopping at the traditional Kashmiri handicraft markets, Srinagar truly delivers something for everyone.
Where is it?
Srinagar is situated in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, in the north of India on the edge of the Himalayan Mountain range. It is settled in the Kashmir Valley and lies on the banks of the Jhelum River, a tributary of the mighty Indus.
What is it?
The summer capital of the state, Srinagar is a stunning city but it has suffered a difficult religious past since India gained independence from Britain. Tensions between Hindu and Muslim populations have existed over the region ever since, especially in the early 1990’s. Protests still take place to this day, which means there is still a high level of police and armed soldiers stationed there.
Best time to visit?
The region of Kashmir has very distinctive seasons, so the best time to visit very much depends on personal preference. Srinagar is greenest during the summer months, while the peak time to visit for flowers blooming is in the spring. If snowy mountains are what you’re after, the winter months are arguably the best!
One of the best hidden sights is Shankaracharya Mandir, a Hindu temple built from hefty blocks of visibly ancient grey stone. Dedicated to Lord Shiva and hidden on a hilltop, the sacred feeling of the beautiful temple is only enhanced through the fact that no cameras or mobile phones are allowed near. The only way to see the stunning temple is to make the journey up but, rest assured, the reward is definitely worth the effort.