ABUNDANCE – it’s the first word that strikes me when I step foot into Kashmir. The orchards are full of blossoms because it’s summer. Many hundreds of red, juicy apples hang precariously from trees. The harvest is underway for juicy peaches. In a nearby field, walnuts are starting to ripen. Roads that lead to snow-clad mountains are lined with irises, amaranth flowers, and hyacinths. Elsewhere Kashmir’s iconic Chinar trees provide bright shade to passers-by.
Nature has a unique identity in Kashmir. It seduces and entices equally. You will be amazed at the incredible views and drives you can find everywhere you travel to Srinagar. This article contains some of our favourite suggestions for activities you can include in your srinagar tour packages to srinagar packages. No matter what you do, Don’t forget about taking the time to speak with people and to listen to their stories. The Kashmiris are warm, welcoming and generous and will tell you stories about their lives by the dozen. There is always a subtext of violence and political conflict that mar many levels, but this is what makes the interactions with Kashmiris so fascinating. These interactions will be the highlight of your Srinagar trip.
Things to do and see in Srinagar
Srinagar offers a plethora of scenic and experiential excursions – pick and choose the ones you like. This is a list of things to do and see in Srinagar.
Sunset shikara ride on Dal Lake
A shikara ride on Dal Lake is a no brainer. Visitors to Kashmir are welcomed by kitschy boats decorated with colourful carpets and rugs. It would help if you considered going on a ride in the evening to see the sunset and catch reflections of the surrounding mountains. This was one of the things my mom loved about Srinagar.
Visit Pari Mahal
This charming monument is known as the abode of the fairies in local parlance. It’s not hard to see why. It boasts a stunning view of the valley from its multi-tiered monument. From this viewpoint, you can see Srinagar’s entire city, including its lakes and surrounding meadows.
Gardens and Tulips
Srinagar houses Asia’s largest Tulip Garden. They are only in full bloom for a brief time between March and April. So plan your visit accordingly. These flowers make for spectacular views. There are many scenic botanical gardens available at all times of the year. Make sure to include Shalimar Bagh or Nishat Garden in your schedule.
This dainty white shrine is located right by the shores of Dal Lake. You’ll be amazed at how tranquil it is on a weekday! For girls, make sure to bring something to cover your head. Also, be sure that you have something covering your knees and elbows. You might be refused entry if you do not!
Floating Market at Dal Lake
If you are willing to set your alarm at an unusual hour, you can visit the floating vegetable market and flower market at Dal Lake at dawn. This bustling market is unique because vendors set up shop on boats, and customers also arrive by boat. This is a popular experience for tourists, and you can expect to pay around INR 2000-2500 (PS25-30).
A shikara ride on Nigeen Lake
If you’re not an early riser, then head to Nigeen Lake later in the day. Around 8 AM, several flower sellers from the floating market make their way to Nigeen Lake. You can either pick up some flowers for your hotel room or take a boat ride in a colourful shikara and watch the various vendors and boatmen go about their day. Nigeen Lake is the ideal place to escape from the touristy hoards at Dal Lake.
A gander in apple orchards
Experience holidays are what you should be looking for, so visit Kashmir in the summer months. You will see orchards at full bloom in July and August. You can expect hundreds of apples-laden trees. You can book a class in cooking or take a picnic to spend the day enjoying the Kashmiri sun.
Day Trips from Srinagar
You should include a few day trips if you’re visiting Srinagar as part of a city tour. The area is full of beautiful drives. It is possible to drive in any direction and still be captivated by the beauty of Kashmir’s natural landscapes. These are some of our favourite day trips from Srinagar. Choose the one that suits your preferences best.
Sonmarg means Meadow of Gold. It lives up to its name. Sonmarg is a 2-hour drive from the nearest village. There are also scenic waterfalls and tiny villages along the way. Tourists and locals alike love the picturesque valley, so be prepared for many people during the summer months. You can also hike to the beautiful Vishansar lake in Sonmarg if you have some time.
If you have a soft spot for offbeat places that do not feature on most tourists’ itineraries, then head to Yousmarg. This tranquil meadow is surrounded by hundreds of pine trees and beautiful pastures. Yousmarg, located 50 km from Srinagar, makes it an ideal day trip.
Gulmarg, one of Kashmir’s most famous spots, is only 1.5 hours from Srinagar. The impressive gondola ride offers breathtaking views of the snow-clad Himalayas. You can also enjoy the Gulmarg skiing slopes if you are there in winter. You can read more about our time in Gulmarg in our article: road trip to Leh Ladakh.
There are many sightseeing options in this bustling city. The idyllic Aru Valley is a favourite spot in the region.
National Park Dachigam
Srinagar is located less than 25 km from Dachigam National Park. The park’s tranquil surroundings are not the only attraction. You can spot the mysterious Kashmir Stag and Black Bears as well as dozens of colourful birds. Tourists need a permit to enter the area, so plan if your plans include venturing to Dachigam.
Srinagar Accommodation Guide
Srinagar has a range of accommodation to cater to all budgets. We love luxury and experiences, so we chose The Lalit Grand Palace. The hotel is a renovated palace, so expect lavish furnishings and elaborate chandeliers. You can also choose to stay in the modern wing if you don’t like traditional tapestries or old-world charm. You can expect modern furnishings and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. We chose the latter, and we found ourselves spending hours on our patio every day.
The Lalit Grand Palace is less than a 5-minute walk from Dal Lake, so it’s easy to head to the lake every evening at sunset or sunrise. This is not the only highlight of your stay. The 37-acres of gardens and orchards surround the rooms. You can easily spend hours wandering through the orchards, which are laden with apples in summer and covered with snowy powdery snow during winter. You can also go on a stroll through their vast gardens and check out their fitness centre if you’re looking to build your appetite.
A memorable dining experience marked our stay at The Lalit Grand Palace. There are many culinary options available, from oriental delights to Kashmiri delights. Although we tried all the options, as you likely know, we are fruit-eaters. We loved the farm-to-fork concept that the hotel promotes. The hotel’s food is primarily grown right there. In months, we enjoyed the most delicious fresh produce: fruit juices, salads made with iceberg lettuce, herbs, and soups made using tomatoes grown at the hotel. Desserts are garnished with walnuts that we picked from trees. All this, in an alfresco setting that would rival the best restaurants around.
You can compare rates and book a room at The Lalit Grand Palace Srinagar here. This video will give you a better understanding of the hotel’s stay and help you decide if it is suitable for your needs.
Things to Eat in Srinagar
Local food is a great way to experience Kashmiri culture. Many ingredients are local and tell stories about the people and culture. For example, the abundance of nature (lotus stem) found in the region’s lakes or have (unique leafy greens) found only in Kashmir.
Here are some of the best culinary experiences and foods you can review in Srinagar. You can expect a large serving of white rice to go with every meal. Let’s get started:
– Wazwan: A mention of Kashmiri food is incomplete without Wazwan. It is a lavish feast that features exquisite delicacies prepared especially for special occasions and weddings. You will find Wazwan tasting plates on almost all restaurant menus. It is a way to introduce Kashmiri cuisine or a rustic degustation menu that the chef has curated. This is a great way to try a variety of local delicacies. Then, enjoy the delicious gustaba meatballs with a creamy yoghurt-based glaze.
– Rogan josh – If you want to go the a la carte route, start with josh. You can find flavourful curried lamb all across India, but it tastes different in Kashmir. It is full of flavour and has just a hint of gravy.
– Tuji Tuji is more than a meal; it’s an experience. Delicious barbecued meats are served alongside steaming hot sheer chai (a new pink-coloured flavourful tea) and traditional pieces of bread at the Dal Lake. Families and friends gather to share the experience of snacking, gossip, and laughter.
– Haq saag: A staple at ceremonies and occasions, a simple dish made with Kashmiri leafy greens, mustard oil, and salt.
– Nadu Palak – Another popular dish at the dinner table in the region is spinach with lotus stem and Indian spices like chilli and asafoetida. Nadu Yakni is another option if you don’t like greens. Its lotus stem is cooked in yoghurt sauce.
– Tabak Maaz: Kashmiri lamb ribs. They are marinated in local spices and milk and then fried. Locals love this delicacy.
– Phirni: If your sweet tooth is strong, you should not leave the area without trying a few phirni. This decadent dessert is made with cream, milk and sugar. Rose essence gives it a delicate, unique flavour.
– Shufta: This dessert is as decadent as it gets. It is made with lots of sugar, dried fruits and nuts, along with a pinch of pepper and cardamon. It’s said to bring warmth even on the coldest days.
– Kahwa: Whether you opt for Wazwan or go the a la carte route, one thing is for sure. You will feel full but sleepy after eating Kashmiri food. You can wash it down with a cup of Kahwa. This flavorful concoction is made from green tea, spices, saffron and spices. It also includes a generous amount of almond slices. It is believed to have many health benefits, including improving digestion, weight loss, and building immunity. It can even help you warm up on the coldest days.
Several quirky cafes in Srinagar offer tea and are great for sharing a cup with friends. Chai Jaai Books and Bricks or the Game of Thrones-themed Winterfell Cafe are just a few of the options.