Srinagar Journals

A History Lover’s Jaunt through Srinagar

Best of IgoUgo

A May 2012 trip to Srinagar by phileasfogg

Patthar Masjid Photo, Srinagar, India More Photos
Quote: I am fascinated by history, to the extent that even where other people visit a destination to revel in its natural beauty, I also keep an eye open for historical attractions in the vicinity. So, while most tourists in Srinagar confine themselves to scenic views, we checked out its history.

Shah-e-Hamdan Mosque

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Srinagar's Oldest Mosque"

Shah-e-Hamdan Mosque Photo, Srinagar, India
Quote:
For me, the mental image of a mosque is that I’ve seen in the many examples of Indo-Islamic architecture I’ve seen in Delhi (a city which teems with medieval mosques). Srinagar’s oldest mosque, the amazing Shah-e-Hamdan, therefore came as a breath-taking surprise: it looked nothing like what I’d expected a mosque to resemble.The Shah-e-Hamdan is named after a person, Mir Syed Ali Hamdani (1314-1384 AD), a Persian mystic and Islamic scholar who left his native land and moved to Kashmir supposedly to escape the tyranny of Timur. ‘Shah-e-Hamdan’ (literally, ‘King of Hamdan’) was the epithet bestowed upon Mir Syed Ali Hamdani in Kashmir, and he was the man largely responsible for introducing Islam to t...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 9, 2012

Shah-e-Hamdan Mosque
Khanqah, Old City
Srinagar, India

Patthar Masjid

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Srinagar's Sole Mughal Mosque"

Patthar Masjid Photo, Srinagar, India
Quote:
Considering the fact that the Mughals were so fond of the Kashmir Valley (they used to visit almost annually with huge entourages, and in the process ended up building bridges, observatories, canals, and pavilions, and laying out vast gardens)—it seems odd that they didn’t build too many mosques. (And the Mughals were very fond of constructing mosques—some of their most spectacular and ornate buildings in India were mosques). The Patthar Masjid, therefore, is a unique building, because it has the distinction of being the only originally Mughal mosque in Srinagar; they restored and renovated some earlier ones.The Patthar Masjid (literally, ‘stone mosque’—possibly named thus because unlike the...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on June 9, 2012

Patthar Masjid
Old City, Near Shah-e-Hamdan
Srinagar, India

Jamia Masjid

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "378 Deodar Trunks in Srinagar’s Largest Mosque"

Jamia Masjid Photo, Srinagar, India
Quote:
If Shah-e-Hamdan is Srinagar’s oldest mosque and Patthar Masjid its only Mughal mosque, the Jamia Masjid too is unique: it is the city’s largest mosque. The word jamia is related to the Urdu jamaa (‘gathered’) and jamaat (congregation), and thus denotes a congregational mosque (such as the Jama Masjid in Delhi), as opposed to a ‘private mosque’, like the small chapel-like mosques often built near imperial apartments in palaces.The Jamia Masjid is only slightly younger than th...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 9, 2012

Jamia Masjid
Nowhatta
Srinagar, India

Hazratbal Shrine

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Srinagar’s Sole Domed Mosque—and a Landmark"

Hazratbal Shrine Photo, Srinagar, India
Quote:
For too many non-Kashmiris who’ve never been to Srinagar, Hazratbal is synonymous not so much with religion as with terrorism. This, for the sad reason that Hazratbal was, for some time in 1993, besieged and became a battlefield for Indian military and paramilitary forces on the one hand, and terrorists holed up in the mosque on the other. Newspapers across India were splashed with photographs of sandbags, pickets, machinegun-toting, shield-bearing soldiers, and empty streets all around Hazratbal.Thank heavens those days are gone. On the day we arrived at Hazratbal (the name literally means ‘the hair of the prophet’—more on that later), all was peaceful and calm. A flock of pigeons pecked at birdse...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on June 9, 2012

Hazratbal Shrine
Left Bank of Dal Lake
Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir

Shalimar Bagh

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Medieval Pavilions and Stately Chinar Trees"

Shalimar Bagh Photo, Srinagar, India
Quote:
You don’t need an address to get to Shalimar Bagh: everybody in Srinagar knows where it is—because this is one of Srinagar’s top two attractions: a beautiful Mughal garden that’s been nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list (the Mughal gardens of Kashmir form a consolidated item on the list).Shalimar (literally, ‘abode of love’) is believed to date back to a Hindu shrine that was situated here in the 6th century AD. In 1619, however, the Mughal emperor Jahangir arrived in Srinagar, and laid out a Mughal garden, which he called Farahbaksh (‘the delightful’). About a decade later, a Mughal governor named Zafar Khan extended the garden and renewed it, renaming it Faizbaksh (‘the boun...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 9, 2012

Shalimar Bagh
Dal Lakeshore
Srinagar, India

Nishat Bagh

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "The ‘Garden of Gladness’"

Nishat Bagh Photo, Srinagar, India
Quote:
Like its counterpart, the Shalimar Bagh, Nishat (literally, the ‘garden of gladness’) is situated on the bank of the Dal Lake, and is one of Srinagar’s most popular sights. As in Shalimar, here too a broad water channel, hemmed in on either side by paved paths, trips down past a series of terraces, flanked on either side by spreading lawns, flowerbeds, and shady trees.Like the Shalimar Bagh, Nishat too is a Mughal charbagh (a garden divided into four quadrants by two streams of running water)—but, as in the case of Shalimar, here too the charbagh design has been altere...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 9, 2012

Nishat Bagh
Dal Lake
Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir

Chashm-e-Shahi

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "A Sacred Spring, and a Mughal Garden"

Chashm-e-Shahi Photo, Srinagar, India
Quote:
Unlike Shalimar and Nishat, Chashm-e-Shahi (literally, ‘royal spring’) isn’t on the easily accessible shores of the Dal Lake. It is also a much smaller garden, and rather more inconvenient to get to—because Raj Bhavan, the residence of the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, lies along the road. With security still being a problem, this means that there’s a police checkpoint, and all vehicles approaching from downhill have to stop and decant passengers. You walk on, past the checkpoint, for about ...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on June 9, 2012

Chashm-e-Shahi
Zabarwan
Srinagar, India

Pari Mahal

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "The ‘Palace of the Fairies’"

Pari Mahal Photo, Srinagar, India
Quote:
If you’re wondering what the heading of this review is all about: that’s what ‘Pari Mahal’ actually means. I couldn’t see, on the signboard outside, any explanations for why this interesting terraced garden-cum-observatory should be named for fairies, but I guess it was considered an appropriate name for a place that commands such a fabulous view across the Dal Lake and the miles of green countryside surrounding it. Nishat and Shalimar may be worth visiting for themselves; Pari Mahal should be visited not just for its atmospheric buildings, but for the panoramic view it offers.Pari Mahal was built as an observatory—supposedly on the site of what was once a Buddhist monastery—by the Mughal prince Da...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 9, 2012

Pari Mahal
Above Chashm-e-Shahi, Zabarwan
Srinagar, India