#DiscoverTheUndiscovered: The allure of Kashmir is unlike any other. And its summer capital, Srinagar is an explorer’s delight. From winding streets of the Old City to labyrinthine interiors of the Dal Lake, take help from locals and navigate through these hidden gems of Srinagar for an experience of a lifetime. By Shubhanjana Das
Day 1: Rowing Around In The Water Bodies Of Srinagar
At the heart of the city is the Dal Lake whose unparalleled beauty has been documented in films, music videos, pictures and literature. And when you take a shikara ride to explore the lake, you will know why! Hop onto a shikara and lose yourself in the prevailing rhythm. It has a life of its own, with villages, floating markets, vegetable gardens, and even farming fields!
Start at the crack of dawn to see how the lake comes to life as vegetable and fruit vendors sell their produce in the middle of the lake. You will be rewarded with Mohiuddin’s Halwa, which is kept steaming hot on a burner in the boat itself. The same is slathered on flat buns and local bread.
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Later, make your way to the only domed shrine in Kashmir, the magnificent Hazratbal Mosque, as its best view is enjoyed from the lake. Shop for souvenirs at Meena Bazar (stock up on saffron), watch the lotus vegetation that makes for a big part of the lake’s produce, and observe the houses on little islands in the lake. You will get to witness how traditional Kashmiri houses are built, with buff-coloured bricks or stone supported with wooden beams. Life on the lake is like a self-sufficient ecosystem in itself.
You may also want to make your way to Nigeen Lake just in time to catch an unforgettable sunset.
Day 2: The Shrines Of Srinagar
The snow-covered mountains visible throughout Srinagar’s skyline are breathtaking and make for stunning photo-ops from all parts of the city. But what most people miss out on is the city’s charming architecture. The shrines of Srinagar are things of beauty, each more sublime than the other. Here, the mosques (except the Hazratbal Mosque) have no domes which is a rarity in Islamic architecture.
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If you’re an architecture enthusiast, do visit Makhdoom Sahib, Naqshband Sahib, Jamia Masjid and Khanqah-e-Moula. Serene yet always thriving with people, this is where you get to feel the pulsating beat of the city while witnessing its grand history.
P.S. — if you are exploring the Old City or ‘downtown’, it’s best to hire a taxi as the driver will be able to guide you well.
Day 3: The Culinary Treats Of Srinagar
From the delectable Wazwan to the irresistible Rogan josh, washed down with the omnipresent Kahwa, and everything in between, you will have a tough time making a decision. Don’t forget to try Tuji, which isn’t as much of a dish as it is a selection of barbequed meats that you can enjoy by the Dal Lake, a meal you should finish with some Phirni (a dessert made of ground rice, cream, milk, sugar, cardamom, nuts and rose essence) and/or Shufta (a creamy dessert made of dried fruits, sugar, nuts, pepper and cardamom). When in Old City, visit any traditional eatery for Tabak Maaz (Kashmiri-style lamb ribs), Haaq Saag (made with local leafy greens) and Nadru Palak (spinach cooked with lotus stem).