(Last Updated on : 05/05/2010)
Mirror like lakes, tumbling rivers and verdant meadows, set at the foot of the mighty Himalayas, Srinagar is truly "heaven on earth" with each of the four seasons hearalding new delights, the almond blossom of spring, the lotus flowers of summer, the saffron fields of autumn and snow cover trees of winter.Srinagar is the summer capital of the state Jammu & Kashmir
in India, and is situated in the valley of Kashmir. The city lies on both banks of the Jhelum River, a tributary of the Indus River. It`s famous for its lakes and also houseboats that float over them. Also it is known worldwide for traditional Kashmiri handicrafts and dry fruits.
Origin of the Name Srinagar
According to the history of words, the word Srinagar is composed of two Sanskrit words, namely, `Sri` meaning abundance and wealth and `Nagar` that means city. `Sri` is also the name of a goddess of Hindus. A legend as incorporated in Nila`s Nilmatapurana states that the Kashmir valley initially was a vast lake. A Hindu sage named Kshyapa drained out this water and there emerged the beautiful valley of Kashmir. It is said emperor Ashoka when laid the foundation of his capital of the region, named it `Srinagari`. Later many emperors came and changed the name according to their preferences but later original name `Srinagar` was retained.
History of Srinagar
Once a part of Mauryan Empire, the city was founded by King Pravarasena-II more than 2000 years ago. Ashoka introduced Buddhism in Kashmir valley and the adjoining regions around the city became centers of Buddhism.
In the 1st century the region was under the control a Kushans .The rulers of this dynasty strengthened Buddhist tradition. Vikramaditya of Ujjain dynasty and his successors ruled the regions just before the city fell to the controls of Huns in 6th century. The Hindu and Buddhist rulers lasted till 14th century after which Kashmir valley and city came under the control of several Muslim leaders including Mughals. Akbar established Mughal rule in the valley and city.
Annexation of Kashmir Valley:
When the disintegration of the Mughal Empire set forth in 1707, infiltrations to the valley from the Pathan tribes increased and they ruled over for several decades. Raja Ranjit Singh in 1814 annexed a major part of Kashmir valley, including Srinagar to his kingdom and the city came under the influence of Sikhs. Subsequent to the treaty between the Sikh rulers and the British in Lahore in 1846(treaty of Lahore), inter alias provided British suzerainty over the Kashmir valley. British kept Gulab Singh as an independent and sovereign ruler, and Srinagar became part of his kingdom, and remained princely state of undivided India for years together.
Post India Independence:
After, India`s independence, certain tribes of which maximum was pathans actively supported by Pakistani forces, invaded the valley to gain control, by armed forces. This was done even though Maharaja Hari Singh had assurance of British Government backed with international laws that all rulers of such states were free to remain independent entities, or to choose to annex either to India or to Pakistan. Hari Singh allegedly signed a covenant in 1948 with the Government of India, which ensured integration of his kingdom into newly formed Republic of India. Various historians, especially British historian Alaister Lamb, dispute the claim that the Maharaja signed any agreement at all.
Present Situation of Srinagar:
The government of India, of its obligations enjoined upon it subsequent to this treaty, immediately air lifted Indian Troops to Srinagar, and invading forces were wiped out. In the meanwhile, the matter has been escalated to the United Nations, and a cease-fire was imposed under its authority, resulting into some part going out of hand. India and Azad Kashmir by Pakistan now know this part as Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. The city of Srinagar has thereafter remained administered by India.
Geography of Srinagar
Srinagar lies between two hills, the Hari Parbat and the Shankar Acharya (also known as Takht-i-Suleiman). The city had experienced several natural disasters. Before the nineteenth century, Srinagar had been destroyed and rebuilt six times. Two major fires, in 1892 and 1899, devastated large portions of the city. There have been eleven major earthquakes in the city since the fifteenth century.
It is located on both sides of river Jhelum,which is also called vyath in Kashmiri.The river passes through the city and meandering through the valley,moves onwards and deepens in Wular Lake. The city is famous for its nine old bridges,connecting two parts of the city.
Hokersar,the capital of Indian Kashmir ,14 kilometers from srinagar,is a world class wetland including lake and marshy area.It is the most well known and accessible of all the wetlands of kashmir.Thousands of migratory birds come to Hokersar from Siberia and other regions in winter season. Such wetlands in Kashmir play a vital role in sustaining a large population of wintering ,staging and breeding birds.
Geographical factors govern transport and means of communication in Kashmir. Although there has been great progress in transport and communication system in the valley, man is still the swine of burden in some mountainous areas. In the valley roads are the main means of transportation for wheeled traffic. The Government of India, in order to make the traffic possible between the valley of Kashmir and the rest of the country even in the coldest weather of the year, has constructed two tubes of Jawahar Tunnel near Banihal at a height of 2200 meters above sea level Rivers in the valley of Kashmir are also navigable. On the higher altitudes, where roads are not so common, mules and ponies are also used as means of transportation. There is also Air transport from Jammu to Srinagar and Ladakh.
Climate of Srinagar
The city has mild summers during the months April-June and cold winters of November-February.The city generally gets heavy snowfall from December to Februaury.
Temperature lies within 29.5 degree centigrade to -1.9 degree centigrade. Best time to visit is the months from April to June.
Economy of Srinagar
Srinagar is the main center of the economy of the Kashmir Valley, and has remained tourist destination for centuries. The city remained on the itinerary of the Mughal ruling elite, and several Mughal emperors and their consorts had visited the city, and several Mughal gardens in and around the city indicate their close association with Srinagar.
After the colonization of India by Europeans, the ruling elite as well as rich Indians used to visit the city and nearby locations during summers to avoid heat of the plains and during winters to enjoy the snowfall.
Another significant segment of the economy include handicrafts, weaving of woolen shawls and dress material and woodcarving. Srinagar serves as one of the collecting point from where fruits and handicraft products are taken to several parts of Indian subcontinent. Srinagar also has specialized markets and retail shops. The hinterland of Srinagar is the most populous part of the Kashmir valley, and crops like wheat and paddy are cultivated for local consumption. Orchards produce a number of fruits, particularly apples.
Government and Politics of Srinagar
Srinagar Municipal Committee runs the city. The district contributes 2 parliamentary seats-Srinagar city and Badgam.
Transport of Srinagar
Transport has always been a matter of major concern and is a vital problem. Though now a lot of highways and communications are being developed in the state. The road from Srinagar to Rawalpindi through the Jhelum valley is often made impassable by severe weather conditions that cause shortage of essential commodities. Facilities have been considerably improved for tourists. The intra-city transport also relies on auto-rickshaw and mini-buses.
External transport includes:
Srinagar is linked with New Delhi through Jammu. It is also connected to Leh, Mumbai, Chandigarh and Bangalore.
The nearest railway station is Udhampur (230 km).
Roads to Chandigarh, Jammu, Sonamarg, Pahalgam, Delhi, Leh, Kargil and Gulmarg link Srinagar. The main Bus Station is at Lal Chowk.
Demography of Srinagar
It lies in the western part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Population of the city is approx 930136 according to 2001 census. The language spoken is Kashmiri, Urdu, Hindi and English.
105 sq kms.
Culture of Srinagar
Srinagar has a distinctive blend of cultural heritage. Holy places in and around the city depict the historical cultural and religious diversity of the city as well as Kashmir valley. Some of the holy places of the city include:
A temple dedicated to Shiva constructed in 371 BC .It is currently known as Shankaracharya temple, and it is believed Shankaracharya had visited the place and meditated here. Kheer Bhavani shrine, located about 26km from Srinagar is one of the most revered Hindu shrines of Kashmir. It has a spring that changes colours indicating the fortunes of the people. Mosque named Jama Masjid, which was actually a Hindu temple, is spacious enough for 30,000 people and was built in 1398. The Hill of Sharika is one of the oldest shrines in Kashmir that bears its origins to Puranic times. This shrine is dedicated to goddess Sharika.
Performing Arts of Srinagar
Bhand Pather is a form of traditional folk theatre art form of play and dance. The artists depict in a satirical style social evils. Chakri is a form of Kashmiri folk music and is the most popular. Another very well known form of Kashmiri music is Sufiana music. It was introduced in valley in 15th century from Iran. Over the years, it has assimilated a number of Indian Ragas, and has established itself as classical music of this particular region. The instruments used in the music include Santoor, Sitar, Kashmiri Saz, Tabla and Wasool.
Hafiz Nagma is a form of Dance that is performed to the accompaniment of Sufiana music. The dancer is female.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has decided to include the 100-year-old Sri Pratap Singh (SPS) Museum in Srinagar in its programmed on enhancing protection of movable cultural property.
Cuisine of Srinagar
Rich and redolent with the flavour of the spices used -cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, saffron, etc. Kashmiri food can be the simple meal of a family, or a 36-course wedding banquet called Wazawan. The staple diet of every Kashmiri is rice; the most preferred being the dense, slightly sticky grained Kashmir variety, which is prized in the Valley.
Mutton, chicken or fish are of prime importance in Kashmiri meal and everyday cooking often combines vegetable and meat in the same dish.
Mutton and turnips, chicken and spinach, fish and lotus root are also very popular combinations. Pure vegetarian dishes include dum-aloo - roasted potatoes in curd-based gravy, and chaman- fried paneer (cottage cheese), in a thick sauce. Non-vegetarian dishes are considered in Kashmir to be a sign of lavish hospitality and at a Wazwan or banquet, not more than one or two vegetarian dishes are served. Sweets do not play an important role in Kashmiri cuisine. Instead Kahva or green tea is used to wash down a meal.
Clothes of Srinagar
The Kashmiri women wear salwar-kameez that is thicker to suit to the climate and the embroidery done on them is particular to the region. This traditional dress in Kashmir is called Phiran. The long, loose pheran covers their physique no doubt, but does not blunt their physical appeal. Both Men and Women wear Phiran .Men generally dress in Kurta Pyjama. Though now Jeans are also common with Kurtas.
Education in Srinagar
University of Kashmir:
It is situated in Hazratbal, an idyllic area situated on the western side of fabulous Dal Lake. It is spread over 263 acres of lush green land with three adjusted campuses of exquisite beauty. Established as Jammu and Kashmir University in 1948,bifurcated, as University of Kashmir in 1969.The population of girl student is 40%.
Mainly there are army and air force schools. Apart from them main well-known schools are D.P.S, J&K Public school and Kendriyavidyalaya. The education boards in the city are J&K state board, C.B.S.E and ICSE.
Media in Srinagar
Roshni Urdu Daily:
It is the independent oldest Urdu daily in the city.
Independent online news.
Daily English Newspaper.
First online Magazine of Kashmir. Yembarzal is a quarterly magazine launched to raise the voices and experiences of young writers and people from and in the Kashmir Valley.
Four FM frequencies are available in the city. Adlabs is the only FM operator in Srinagar (its bid was Rs. 61 lakh)
Sports in Srinagar
The most popular are the adventure sports. Dal Lake has the potential for canoeing and water skiing. Water trekking is local name for three to four day trip along river Jhelum to various lakes in a shikara with camping gear. Dachigam National Park and Pahalgam is popular for hiking, trekking and fishing.