Srinagar, the picturesque summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, is at an elevation of 5,200 feet (1,600 meters) and comprises a system of lakes and waterways. The Jhelum River flows through the center of the old city while the idyllic Dal and Nagin Lake to the east of the city are linked by an intricate maze of waterways.
The valley of Kashmir, beautiful with its snow capped mountains and pristine lakes, captivated the Mughals. So taken by the surroundings, the Mughal Emperors created terraced hillside gardens to enjoy the views. Mughal formal garden style reached its peak here and of the over seven hundred gardens in the valley, today only the Shalimar Bagh, Nishat Bagh and a few others, survive on the eastern shore of the Dal Lake.
British vacationers during the Raj Period (1858-1947), who were drawn to the area for it beauty and cooler climate, were not permitted to own land. In response to this law, they came up with an ingenious solution of houseboats. They float on Dal Lake and have become a major tourist attraction.
The city has a distinctly Central Asian flavor. The mosques and shrines are among the city's most attractive features and largely define the city's character. Typically built of wood intricately carved with geometric patterns, these structures are surmounted by pagoda-like steeples instead of the typical domes. The most striking examples of wooden architecture are the mosque of Shah Hamadan in the old city, and the Shah Makhdum Sahib Shrine on the slopes of Hari Parbat hill. The city dates back to the sixth century and extensive Buddhist ruins can be found near the city. The oldest historic remains are of the Sankaracharya temple built in the seventh century.
The old city forms the commercial heart of the city and is a labyrinth of alleyways that weave between mosques, shrines and houses. Seven bridges span the Jhelum River that divides the old city. These bridges have names like Amira Kadal and Zaina Kadal but are more popularly known by their numbers; 1st, 2nd, 3rd. The Zero Bridge just added beyond the 1st bridge, serves the more modern part of the city that is further up the Jhelum River.
"Srinagar." Columbia Encyclopedia. 2003. Encyclopedia.com. 11 August 2003 .
"Srinagar." Encyclopedia Britannica. 2003. Encyclopedia Britannica Premium Service.
11 August 2003 .