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Srinagar

Srinagar

Srinagar (/ˈsriːnəɡər/ (About this soundlisten)) is the largest city and the summer capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It lies in the Kashmir Valley on the banks of the Jhelum River, a tributary of the Indus, and Dal and Anchar lakes. The city is known for its natural environment, gardens, waterfronts and houseboats. It is also known for traditional Kashmiri handicrafts and dried fruits.`{`4`}``{`5`}` It is the northernmost city of India with over 1 million people.`{`6`}`

Origin of name

The earliest records, such as Kalhana’s Rajatarangini, the name Siri-nagar (or Sri-nagara) is mentioned, which in turn is a local transformation of the Sanskrit name Sūrya-nagar, meaning “City of the Sun”.[7] The name Sri-nagar is also used in the records of the Chinese Tang Dynasty.

Alternatively, it may have drawn its name from two Sanskrit words: śrī (venerable), and nagar (city), which would make it the “City of Wealth”.

History

The Burzahom archaeological site 10 km from Srinagar has revealed the presence of neolithic and megalithic cultures.[8]

According to Kalhana’s 12th century text Rajatarangini, a king named Pravarasena II established a new capital named Pravarapura (also known as Pravarasena-pura). Based on topographical details, Pravarapura appears to be same as the modern city of Srinagar. Aurel Stein dates the king to 6th century.[9]

Kalhana mentions that a king named Ashoka had earlier established a town called Srinagari. Kalhana describes this town in hyperbolic terms, stating that it had “9,600,000 houses resplendent with wealth”.[10] According to Kalhana, this Ashoka reigned before 1182 BCE and was a member of the dynasty founded by Godhara. Kalhana states that this king adopted the doctrine of Jina, constructed stupas and Shiva temples, and appeased Bhutesha (Shiva) to obtain his son Jalauka.

Multiple scholars identify Kalhana’s Ashoka with the 3rd century Buddhist Mauryan emperor Ashoka despite these discrepancies.[11] Although “Jina” is a term generally associated with Jainism, some ancient sources use it to refer to the Buddha.[10] Romila Thapar equates Jalauka to Kunala, stating that “Jalauka” is an erroneous spelling caused by a typographical error in Brahmi script.[11]:130

Ashoka’s Srinagari is generally identified with Pandrethan (near present-day Srinagar), although there is an alternative identification with a place on the banks of the Lidder River.[12] According to Kalhana, Pravarasena II resided at Puranadhishthana (“old town”) before the establishment of Pravarapura; the name Pandrethan is believed to be derived from that word.[9][13] Accordining to V. A. Smith, the original name of the “old town” (Srinagari) was transferred to the new town.[14]

Tourism

Srinagar is one of several places that have been called the “Venice of the East“.[37][38][39] Lakes around the city include Dal Lake – noted for its houseboats – and Nigeen Lake. Apart from Dal Lake and Nigeen Lake, Wular Lake and Manasbal Lake both lie to the north of Srinagar. Wular Lake is one of the largest fresh water lakes in Asia

Srinagar has some Mughal gardens, forming a part of those laid by the Mughal emperors across the Indian subcontinent. Those of Srinagar and its close vicinity include Chashma Shahi (the royal fountains); Pari Mahal (the palace of the fairies); Nishat Bagh (the garden of spring); Shalimar Bagh; the Naseem Bagh.[40] Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Botanical Garden is a botanical garden in the city, set up in 1969.[41] The Indian government has included these gardens under “Mughal Gardens of Jammu and Kashmir” in the tentative list for sites to be included in world Heritage sites.

The Sher Garhi Palace houses administrative buildings from the state government.[citation needed] Another palace of the Maharajas, the Gulab Bhavan, has now become the Lalit Grand Palace hotel.[42]

The Shankaracharya Temple which lies on a hill top in the middle of the city, besides the Kheer Bhawani Temple are important Hindu temples in the city.[43]

Good to Know

Country
India
Visa Requirements
Visa in not needed
Languages spoken
English, Hindi
Currency used
INR
Area (km2)
18,274 km2

Transport

Transport

Srinagar International Airport

A passenger train at Srinagar Railway Station

Road

The city is served by many highways, including National Highway 1A and National Highway 1D.[49]

Air

Srinagar International Airport has regular domestic flights to LehJammuChandigarhDelhi and Mumbai and occasional international flights. An expanded terminal capable of handling both domestic and international flights was inaugurated on 14 February 2009 with Air India Express flights to Dubai. Hajj flights also operate from this airport to Saudi Arabia.[50]

Rail

Srinagar is a station on the 119 km (74 mi) long Banihal-Baramulla line that started in October 2009 and connects Baramulla to Srinagar, Anantnag and Qazigund. The railway track also connects to Banihal across the Pir Panjalmountains through a newly constructed 11 km long Banihal tunnel, and subsequently to the Indian railway network after a few years. It takes approximately 9 minutes and 30 seconds for train to cross the tunnel. It is the longest rail tunnel in India. This railway system, proposed in 2001, is not expected to connect the Indian railway network until 2017 at the earliest, with a cost overrun of 55 billion INR.[51] The train also runs during heavy snow.

There are proposals to develop a metro system in the city.[52] The feasibility report for the Srinagar Metro is planned to be carried out by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation.[53]

In December 2013, the 594m cable car allowing people to travel to the shrine of the Sufi saint Hamza Makhdoom on Hari Parbat was unveiled. The project is run by the Jammu and Kashmir Cable Car Corporation (JKCCC), and has been envisioned for 25 years. An investment of 300 million INR was made, and it is the second cable car in Kashmir after the Gulmarg Gondola.[54]

Boat

Whilst popular since the 7th century, water transport is now mainly confined to Dal Lake, where shikaras (wooden boats) are used for local transport and tourism. There are efforts to revive transportation on the River Jhelum.[55]