The capital of Jammu and Kashmir and the largest city in the state, Srinagar is famous for its canals, houseboats and Mughal gardens. The city itself is quite unlike most other large Indian cities for here you are much more in Central Asia than on the sub continent. It's a city full of intriguing alleyways and curious buildings. A place where it's very easy to spend a few hours simply wandering - particularly along the old city streets near the Jhelum river. The city has long been a center of art and leaning. Srinagar is a unique city because of its lakes - the Dal, Nagin and Anchar. The River Jhelum also flows through a part of the city.
History of Srinagar
The city was founded by the King Pravarasena-II over 2,000 years ago, and the city of Srinagar has a long history, dating back at least to the 3rd century BC. The city was then a part of the Maurya Empire one of the largest empires of the Indian Sub Continent. Ashoka introduced Buddhism to the Kashmir valley, and the adjoining regions around the city became a centre of Buddhism. In the 1st Century, the region was under the control of Kushans and several rulers of this dynasty strengthened the Buddhist tradition. Vikramaditya (of Ujjain) and his successors probably ruled the regions just before the city fell to the control of the Huns in the 6th Century, and Mihirkula was the most dreaded ruler of the city and the valley.
The Hindu and the Buddhist rule of Srinagar lasted until the 14th century when the Kashmir valley, including the city, came under the control of the several Muslim rulers, including the Mughals. It was also the capital during the reign of Yusuf Shah Chak, a ruler who was tricked by Akbar when he failed to conquer Kashmir by force. Yusuf Shah Chak remains buried in Bihar in India. Akbar established Mughal rule in Srinagar and Kashmir valley.
When the disintegration of the Mughal Empire set forth after the death of Auranzeb in 1707, infiltrations to the valley from the Pathan tribes increased, and they ruled the city for several decades. Raja Ranjit Singh in the year 1814 annexed a major part of the Kashmir Valley, including Srinagar, to his kingdom, and the city came under the influence of the Sikhs subsequent to the signing of a treaty between the Sikh rulers and the British in Lahore in 1846, known as the Treaty of Lahore. The treaty provided the British de-facto suzerainty over the Kashmir Valley, and British installed Gulab Singh as an independent and sovereign ruler of the regions, and Srinagar became part of his Kingdome, and remained for long one like one of the several princely states of undivided India.
After, India's independence, certain tribes, mostly Pathans and Pashtuns, actively supported by elements of the Pakistani force, invaded the valley to wrestle control, by armed force, of the city of Srinagar and the Valley. This was done in spite of the-then ruler Maharaj Hari Singh having a solemn and sovereign assurance (of the British Government) backed by the international law that all rulers of such states were free to remain as independent entities, or to choose to annex either to India or to Pakistan. In view of infiltration by armed forces and the possibility of his kingdom, including the city of Srinagar falling into the hands of the forces inimical to him, his kingdom and to the people the valley, Hari Singh signed a covenant in 1948 with the government of India, which ensured integration of his kingdom into the newly formed Republic of India conditioned on the requirement of having a plebiscite after any conflict had ended.
The Government of India, in view of its obligation enjoined upon it subsequent to this covenant, immediately air-lifted Indian troops to Srinagar, and the city was flushed clean of the invading forces. The killings of partition fresh in his mind, the Prime Minister of India, a native Kashmiri, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, avoided further bloodshed of two newly formed countries by letting the international community decide on the fate of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. The lessons of letting the international community doing token gestures were quickly learned; Bangladesh was liberated swiftly when the democratically elected Prime Minister of Pakistan was overthrown by the military of East Pakistan on the basis of ethnic hatred. The tensions between positives of economic liberalization, regional aspirations and the negatives of terrorist and military interventions continue in Kashmir, unfortunately.
Geography of Srinagar
The weather of Srinagar may be generally described as alpine. The city has mild summers during the months of April-June, and cold winters of November-February. The city generally gets heavy snowfall from December to February.
The city is located on both the sides of the river Jhelum, which is called Vyath in Kashmir. The river passes through the city and meandering through the valley, moves onward and deepens in the Wular Lake The city is famous for its nine old bridges, connecting the two parts of the city.
Hokersar is a wetland situated near Srinagar. Thousands of migratory birds come to Hokersar from Siberia and other regions in the winter season. Migratory birds from Siberia and Central Asia use wetlands in Kashmir as their transitory camps between September and October and again around spring. These wetlands play a vital role in sustaining a large population of wintering, staging and breeding birds.
Hokersar is 14 km north of Srinagar, and is a world class wetland spread over 13.75 km� including lake and marshy area. It is the most accessible and well-known of Kashmir's wetlands which include Hygam, Shalibug and Mirgund. A record number of migratory birds have visited Hokersar in recent years. An estimated quarter of a million birds have already been spotted at Hokersar in the current season.
Birds found in Hokersar are migratory ducks and geese which include Brahminy Duck, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Garganey, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Common Merganser, Northern Pintail, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Pochard, Red-Crested Pochard, Ruddy Shelduck, Northern Shoveler, Common Teal and Eurasian Wigeon.
Tourist Attractions of Srinagar
Srinagar is located in the picturesque Kashmir valley and one of the most beautiful cities in India in terms of natural splendor. The tourist attractions of Srinagar are mainly related to natural beauty like lakes, gardens, etc. Other than that, there are some shrines that form the tourist attractions of Srinagar. The state of Srinagar embodies the poetry of nature, which no human language can interpret in words. Majestic ice capped mountains, verdant woods, lively rivers and placid lakes form the landscape of the state. The state can be divided in 3 distinct regions, namely:
All three are strikingly varied from one another in terms of geography, culture, religion and climate. So the tourist attraction in Srinagar not only lies in the outstanding sceneries, but also in its cultural variation from one area to another.
Hazratbal Shrine: Situated opposite the Nishat Bagh on the banks of Dal Lake, the Hazratbal Shrine houses the Moi-e-Muqqadus (preserved sacred hair) of Prophet Mohammad. It is one of the most popular shrines in Srinagar, revered by Hindus as well as Muslims.
Dal Lake: Srinagar sightseeing loses its meaning if you have not visited the Dal Lake. With the backdrop of mountains on three sides, the view of the Dal Lake looks as if you are watching a photograph. This lake counts amongst the most splendid lakes in the country. One of the major attractions of the Dal Lake is the houseboats that stand lining its edges.
Nagin Lake: Another popular tourist attraction of Srinagar is the Nagin Lake. Placid water of the lake, surrounded with manicured flowerbeds and groves of chinar, poplar and willow, is enough to capture your heart.
Shankaracharya Temple: Perched on the Takht-e-Suleiman hill, the Shankaracharya Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is supposed to be the oldest shrine of the Kashmir valley.
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