Srinagar

Srinagar in the Kashmir Valley is the summer capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and the largest city in the Kashmir region.

Understand

Sikharas in Dal Lake

The city has become safer to travel to since 2003; however, the streets are still lined with armed soldiers. Any building of value will also have a sandbag bunker and razor wire for protection. If arriving from the airport, you will also notice hundreds of large, Western-style houses. These were built before the current conflict when domestic travel to Kashmir was booming. Currently most of these houses are empty, being squatted in or have been usurped for military use.

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 7 8.2 14.1 20.5 24.5 29.6 30.1 29.6 27.4 22.4 15.1 8.2
Nightly lows (°C) -2 -0.7 3.4 7.9 10.8 14.9 18.1 17.5 12.1 5.8 0.9 -1.5
Precipitation (mm) 48 68 121 85 68 39 62 76 28 33 28 54

Source: Climate Charts

Most people visit the city in the summer months. The temperature at this time is cool to pleasant. Light sweaters may be needed for occasional cool nights in the summertime. In winter, you will need full winter gear and expect snow and few places to have hot water.

Get in

Many people take the train to Jammu followed by a taxi or bus ride to Srinagar. The journey from Jammu to Srinagar is costlier in the summers because the capital is being shifted from Jammu to Srinagar on both the state buses and Sumos. State buses are safer but take more time and are a bit uncomfortable.

Foreigners are required to register upon arrival at the airport or at their hotel or houseboat.

By plane

Sheikh ul Alam Airport (Urdu: شیخ العالم ہوائی اڈا; Hindi: शेख़ उल आलम हवाई अड्डा) is commonly known as Srinagar Airport (Urdu: سری نگر کے ہوائی اڈا; Hindi: श्रीनगर हवाई अड्डा). It is an international airport (IATA: SXR).

A new terminal for arrivals and departures with air bridges and other up to date operational facilities was inaugurated on 14 February 2009. International, domestic and seasonal Hajj pilgrimage charters to Jeddah are operated from Sheikh ul Alam airport.

Flights are operated by Jet Airways, Air Deccan, SpiceJet, Go Air, Jet Lite and Indian Airlines from Delhi and Mumbai to Srinagar, with or without a stopover at Jammu. The frequency is once or twice a day by each airline. The cost is approx ₹ 2,500 from Jammu, ₹ 2,500 - 5,000 from Delhi one way and higher from Mumbai, depending on the different season.

The airport is still heavily patrolled and you may see many soldiers or other armed security detachments. Winter flights can easily be canceled due to weather conditions. Tickets are easy to purchase in the city. The airport requires a ticket for entrance. A taxi into town should be ₹ 550 and direct to Gulmarg is ₹ 1,500 - 2,000.

When departing Srinagar by air, make sure you have a printed copy of your ticket at hand, otherwise you will not be able to enter the airport. Additionally, allow approximately 1 hr to get from Srinagar to the airport. Security checks can cause traffic to bank up if there are a few flights leaving at around the same time.

By taxi

Hiring a TATA Sumo SUV (fits up to 9 people, or 5 comfortably plus luggage) from Jammu costs approximately ₹ 1,900 - 2,700 depending on time of year or even time of day. To reduce costs many people choose not to take an exclusive taxi, and share the Sumo taxi with others. This costs about ₹ 300 - 400 per person. For a comfortable trip, try for a seat in the middle row - the front bucket seat is (sometimes uncomfortably) shared by 2 people, and the far back could be quite bumpy as the highway is full of mountainous roads. The journey takes around 8 hour.

By bus

J&K State Road Transport Corporation (J&KSRTC) operates fairly comfortable buses from Jammu costing around ₹ 350 and do the journey in around 12 hr. 2 day buses run between Srinagar and Leh staying overnight in Kargil.

There are also direct buses from Delhi taking almost 24 hours to reach Srinagar.

Get around

Auto-rickshaws can be found everywhere. Taxis and buses area also available. Motorcycles can also be rented for enthusiasts.

Negotiate a price with a rickshaw driver before getting in; they are notorious for overcharging. Their usual ploy is: "no problem" or "up to you". As soon as you reach your destination they will have a volte-face! Drivers usually don't speak English but there will always be a passer-by to help translate for you.

A rickshaw from Nigeen Lake to Boulevard is approx. ₹ 70 depending on negotiation skills (August 2009 prices).

Usually private service buses run throughout the city and are well networked with major tourist spots.

See

Dal Lake, Srinagar
Nishat Bagh
Shalimar Bagh
Hazaratbal Shrine

Do

Shikaras in Dal Lake

All the hotels organize excursions (1, 2, 4 days) to see the Himalayan mountains. Beside that package tours by JKTDC can be a good option. Using an honest guide or fixer can potentially save you money on goods and accommodation.

Go for a Shikara ride in the Dal lake which costs around ₹150 (off season) - ₹500 (peak season) for the whole Shikara. For better views and a more peaceful ride in an area devoid of other tourists, walk up a fair bit of distance till you can see the fountain and ask the Shikara rider to take you for a ride to the fountain. It costs ₹300 (off season) - ₹600 (peak season). Make sure you bargain a little, especially in off season. If you are staying longer, you could go on shikara rides more than once... each time to a different part of the lake. A must see is the "village" in the lake. Ask for a ride to the side where locals live and see the floating vegetable market. The market is usually operational only at sunrise and is easiest organised through an agent or your hotel/houseboat.

Buy

One important point to note for tourists having passion for shopping is when you hire an auto rickshaw, please mention that you want to go to Lal Chowk Ghantaghar only for shopping, as most of the auto rickshaw drivers will insist that there is nothing in Lal Chowk, and you should go to the wholesale market instead. This is because the prices at the so-called wholesale market are very much inflated, as they pay at least 20% commission to those auto rickshaw drivers. Also, there are very few shops there. Do not fall into the trap of these cheat auto rickshaw pullers.

Eat

There are numerous bakeries in the city. Kashmiris are very fond of bakery products, especially pastries and cakes, and you can find these bakeries very crowded, especially around the times of major festivals. The more famous bakeries include -

There are a number of restaurants and cafes in Srinagar. Most of the good ones are located in Lal chowk or on Boulevard along the banks of the Dal Lake. Most of the restaurants will serve Kashmiri, Indian, Mughlai and 'Indianized' Chinese dishes. Some pure veg restaurants are also located along Boulevard. Among the veg restaurants 'Krishna Dhaba' is the most popular for its Rajma-and-kheer.

Make sure you try dishes like Rogan-gosht (meat cooked in red gravy), Gushtaba (soft meat balls cooked in natural yoghurt),Rishta (soft meat balls in delicious gravy), Tabakmaaz (deep fried ribs of a lamb) and Kanti (small chunks of meat cooked with a lot of onions). All these meat items are usually eaten with rice.

Another popular local delicacy called Seekh-tuji consists of marinated meat pieces which are freshly barbecued and eaten with chutney. Most of these vendors are located in the Khayaam region of the city. This place is usually teeming with the youth especially in the evenings.

Enjoy the grilled mutton available in Srinagar. This is referred to as a "tilli" or "tekh" and mostly eaten by locals.

Drink

Kahwah is a traditional green tea recipe from Kashmir. The tea is made from green tea leaves with saffron strands, cinnamon bark and cardamom pods. Some varieties are made as a herbal infusion only, without the green tea leaves. Generally, it is served with sugar or honey, and crushed nuts, usually almonds or walnuts. There is another form of tea that is quite famous amongst the locals, its called 'namkeen chai' or 'nun chai'. It is pink in color and is also called pink tea. It is made from black tea, cardamom, various spices, salt and bicarbonate of soda. Also people like nune toath and dum toath which are very famous among Sufis. Nunetoath is nunechai without milk and dumtoath is strong form of kahwa.

If searching for a beer or other drink there is a small bottle shop on the Boulevard. It's at the base of a hotel about halfway up the street and looks like a mini-Fort Knox. Ask people on the street and they'll point you in the right direction.

Sleep

Houseboats in Dal Lake at night
More houseboats

Srinagar is popular for its houseboats, which do not float free around the lake, but are anchored off-shore. It is a great and unique way to enjoy your stay in the city. Houseboats are accessible either by road, or by a short "Shikara" boat ride. Each houseboat usually has 2-5 bedrooms plus bath, dining room, living room, upper deck (good for sunbathing).

Many travelers tell stories of bad experiences while staying on a houseboat, others enjoy their stay greatly. To avoid bad experiences do not pre-book a houseboat before arriving. With the security situation, the majority are empty and you should be able to get a better price in person, and to get a better feeling of if you'll like the place and the owners. Boats with land access have the advantage of allowing you to leave if you feel uncomfortable, or just like going for a walk, although they tend to be noisier.

There are houseboats on Dal Lake and Nagin Lake. These can cost anything from ₹1,000 (March 2008) - ₹5,000 depending upon the time of the year. Houseboats on Nagin lake are upscale and more expensive but are much more beautiful, and the Nagin lake location is serene. Price on Nageen Lake per person in Sept 2005 was ₹500 per night including 2 meals. Expect to pay up to ₹3,000 for a couple on the deluxe boats. Boats on the Jhelum river are cheaper yet, but still comfortable, and close to the bus station, good if you are just transiting Srinagar to or from Ladakh.

Be sure to take a 1 hour boat tour of the lake inlets to get a nice glimpse of life and wildlife along the lake. Prices are about ₹300-500 per trip. A few areas are geared up for attracting tourists, but most much of the area is still reasonably untouched.

There are a wide range of hotels around Dal Lake. Prices vary from ₹500-5,000.

Budget

The shelter group houseboats srinagar ph.no 0194 2310931 starting prices ₹600-3000 is actual 3 star deluxe property, but the rates are quite reasonable and can be an interesting choice for travelers who are planning to visiting Kashmir, located near to main town away from the boulevard noise, and close to the lal chowk area. This property has good security and safety as compare to the other houseboats.

"The prince group of house boat Srinagar Mobile no.09796336405 email:mtabardar@yahoo.co.in Starting prince ₹800 to 2800 http://www.newlalaprince.blogspot.com The boat is neat and clean, and food is prepared by family members. And free information about Kashmir by the owner.

Mid-range

Hotels
Houseboats

There are also some houseboats on quieter Nagin Lake.

Other houseboats can be found on Jahlul river near Information center and Bus station.

Splurge

Stay safe

The situation in Srinagar is extremely tense because of ongoing disputes between India and Pakistan. You will see army trucks, soldiers along the street, and the huge military base is located at Srinagar airport as well. If you have any plans to travel this place (referred as another heaven), then it is advised to know about the situation first. If possible, take advice from some reliable sources like news channels and newspapers.

It is recommended to travel in groups, and you have to be extra careful while in Srinagar. However, that doesn’t mean you have to be under constant fear, or else you will not able to enjoy your tour and your visit will be almost futile.

Go next


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, February 29, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.