Over the next four days in and around Srinagar (the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir), we explore the lakes and waterways, Moghul gardens, mosques, ancient sites and distinctive wooden architecture of the merchant houses that once lined the Jhelum River. We’ll also see remnants of
Kashmir’s pre-Islamic Buddhist and Hindu past. We have a rich array of places to visit and artisans to meet. These include visits to the Shalimar and Nishat Moghul gardens and lunch at nearby dhabas. We’ll walk through the old city, past merchant houses along the Jhelum River, visiting Shah Hamadan and Jama Masqid mosques on the way. You’ll meet great characters like Sadiq Wani (aka Suffering Moses) - generations of his family have commissioned art and handicrafts and run the best papier-mache showroom in the city. We’ll visit the Government Arts Emporium (located in the former Residency) before wandering along the Bund to the Sri Pratap Singh Museum. We’ll spend a full day visiting Dara Village, set amongst walnut and apple orchards, and situated beyond ancient Buddhist architectural remains at Harvan. We’ll meet beekeepers, visit the home of artisans who spend months embroidering Kashmiri shawls for wealthy patrons, and makers of copperware. We walk up hill to a picnic spot by the river before visiting the Gujjar shepherds and observing their traditional way of life.
A very early morning start will take us by shikara to the floating vegetable markets. Gliding along the backwaters before first light has a magic of its own as dawn breaks over the lake. We return via a local honey producers’ home situated on the banks of the backwaters, then head home to the houseboats for a shower and breakfast. Mid morning we set off again to visit Pari Mahal “Palace of the Fairies”. From this vantage point there are stunning views of Dal Lake and the snow capped ridges of the Pir Panjal range. Afternoon arrangements are free and could include a walk to nearby Hazrabal or a lazy few hours watching the world float by from the intricately carved cedar verandah at the back of the houseboat.