1. Dal Lake
One of the prime attractions of Srinagar is the Dal Lake. Boulevard road in Srinagar, gives the best possible view of the Dal Lake. With a magnificent 18 sq. km, the Dal Lake is surrounded by the famous Mughal era gardens and parks, and is full of the famous houseboats, and floating markets.
The name given to the Dal Lake is the “Jewel in the crown of Kashmir”, which I would say is justified, and every tourist who visits the state of Kashmir, has come across the Dal Lake. It also happens to be the second largest lake in the state of J&K, first being the Wular Lake.
2. Nigeen Lake
In the far east of Srinagar, at the foothills of the Zabarwan Mountains, Nigeen Lake. This lake flows, as it branches out of the Dal Lake. Covered by majestic willow, and many more kinds of trees, the lake offers a picturesque view of its surroundings.
There are many houseboats in this lake too, however these are more secluded and less crowded than the ones on the Dal Lake.
3. Wular Lake
Wular Lake is located 50 km from the main Srinagar city. It is a lovely picnic spot and is known as largest freshwater lake in all of India. It spreads over a 200 sq km but this surface area is subjected to changes during the year.
Otherwise calm in its appearance, the lake is noted for the fierce winds that sometimes blow heavy currents. The deepest part of the lake is known as Mota Khon, the ‘Gulf of corpses’. It is said according to local folklore that the bodies of the people who were drowned in the lake are supposed to be washed to this place.
Swimming is not a very good idea here but the beauty of the lake sure attracts many to the spot for picnics and a wonderful time.
4. Shalimar Bagh
Shalimar Bagh is a four-terraced garden with chinars and watercourses and an exquisite hill as its immediate backdrop. A prominent feature of the garden is the arched recesses behind the fountains. These recesses used to be lit with lamps, which gave the fountains a majestic look.
The garden is located at a distance of 15 km from the Tourist Reception Center and covers an area of around 12.40 hectares (30.6 acres). An October visit among the flaming autumn chinars is perhaps even more desirable than the flowers in spring.
5. Nishat Bagh
Nishat Bagh another garden, and is carved out of a hillside. It is made of 12 terraced levels, rich with magnificent old chinars and rows of flowers. It has a beautiful Mughal central water channel with several fountains. Seen from the top, the garden cascades down and reaches out to the Dal Lake.
Nishat Garden was commissioned by Nur Jehan’s brother Asif Khan in 1633. According to legend, Shah Jahan, Jahangir’s son, was so impressed by the garden that he expressed his appreciation thrice to Asif Khan in the hope of getting it as a gift but it was in vain. This led to a minor falling out between the two; for a while Shah Jahan actually turned off the water supply for Nishat, which came through his Shalimar.
Chashm-E-Shahi, which means “royal spring” is another one of the three Mughal Gardens in Srinagar. It was Shah Jahan’s governor Ali Mardan Khan who built the small but perfect Chashm-E-Shahi Gardens on the slopes of the Zabarwan Hill in 1632.
The garden has a pavilion, and three terraces. It is famous for the natural spring that flows from it. The location provides a panoramic view of the city, because it is an elevated plane. The garden is at a distance of 9 kms from the Tourist Reception Center.
7. Nehru Garden
Nehru Garden is another beautiful garden in Srinagar. On the Boulevard Street, the Nehru Park is one of the busiest places in the city. The view of the Dal Lake is magnificent from the park.
The Nehru Park is located on the foot of the Zabarwan mountain range. So to have some beautiful time amidst the beauty of nature, Nehru garden is the place you can go to.
8. Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden
Easily one of the most popular tourist attractions of Srinagar is the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden. The Tulips in the garden only bloom for about 30 days in a year, usually between March and April, depending on the weather.
After just a 9 km long soothing ride along the Dal Lake, driving south, the breath taking carving of 7 terraces of parallel rows of all the colors of Tulips begin. The Tulips here are also multi colored and hybrid.
9. Harwan Garden
To be thorough, visit the Harwan Gardens, which are not Mughal at all but a modern imitation. At the top lies the reservoir that feeds the authentic gardens which gets from Dachigam Nallah. A short walk to the left as you exit the gardens leads to the ruins of the 4th-5th century CE Buddhist site of Harwan Vihara. The great Nagarjuna was here and Kushana king Kanishka may have visited too. These gardens boast of lush green lawns perfect for strolling. Perfect for picnic, this place is quite inviting with its beautiful chinar tress and flowerbeds.