Updated: Nov 14, 2021
Heritage Walks of Srinagar
Explore The Heritage Walks of Srinagar
It is said that to truly experience the unparalleled beauty of Srinagar, One has to see it with the eyes of the soul. But for that you will have to be one with the City, explore the rich and diverse cultural heritage of this historic city.
And the Srinagar walks are designed to deliver just that. walking here you will discover the awe-inspiring architecture of Srinagar, the various professions that thrive in this city and the raw materials which find their way into the magnificent products that are created by its people. Srinagar walks offers an unequalled experience of Srinagar and its way of life.
According the historains, the city of Srinagar was founded in 250 B.C. near Panderethan, Some three miles south east of the present city. The Name Srinagar is alternatively translated as Shree Nagar or ‘The City’.
Srinagar was described by its inhabitants as ‘the city of seven bridges’, and like many medieval river based settlements, Srinagar developed on the banks of river Jhelum. The river not only served as the primary means of transportation, but the bazaars and workshops around it were the hub of social, cultural and commercial activities.
Walk along the pathways filled with historic charm and relive the days that were. As you walk down the winding roads of Sringar or ‘Sheher-e-khas’ as called by the Mughals you will see the old world stories coming to life. Sultan Ghiyas-ud-Din Zain-ul-Abidin (1423-1474), a tolerant and visionary ruler, lovingly referred to as Budshah – the great king was the eighth Sultan of Kashmir. He built the first permanent wooden bridge, the Zaina Kadal, while developing the Zaina bazaar, a trade and cultural hub even today. From his time up until the introduction of Sikh rule in the 19th century, Srinagar would be simply called Shehr-i-Kashmir; ‘The City of Kashmir.’ On the baniG of river Jhelum, where the walk starts you will be ensconced in calmness which will occasionally be broken by the familiar sound of wind glazing the water. Here you will find the Patthar Masjid, a Mughal mosque built by Empress Nur Jahan. It dates back to the early 17th century, the masjid got its name from the local grey limestone used in its construction, and was the only stone mosque of the time. It overlooks the 14th century Khanqah of Shah Hamadan, which was built for Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani. He came from Hamadan, Iran and along with Islam brought the aesthetics that influence the crafts of Kashmir even today. While familiarising yourself with the tales of the past and marvelling at the history rich land you are walking on, the walk leads us through markets famous for their dyed threads used in Kashmiri embroidery, spices and dry fruits, along the banks of the river dotted with Hindu temples. The walk ends at the historic market complex of Shri Ranbir Gunj, after passing through the lanes of ‘Sheher-e Khas’ that are lined with workshops of coppersmiths and artisans who execute the finest Kashrniri Tilla Embroidery, and houses displaying the exquisite vernacular architecture of dhaijidewari. The Byzantine domes seen from the Zaina Kadal, were built by Zain-ul-Abidin for his mother’s grave, part of the royal tomb complex – Mazhar-e-Salateen, on the bank of river Jhelum. Along this bend of the river lies the Masjid-e-Hanifa, which was built by the first Muslim emperor of Kashmir, a prince from Ladakh, Sadr-ud-din Rinchen Shah, who converted to Islam and started the reign of the Shah Miri kings. Prince Pincher converted to Islam upon a chance meeting with Syed Abdul Rehman, popularly known as Bulbul Shah, a famous BaftiStan, poet and scholar. He built the Masjid-e-Hanifa in the memory of Bulbul Shah, which is probably one of the oldest mosques in Kashmir and currently known as Bulbul Lankar.
Walking through Srinagar. you will come across several architectural marvels where the grandness of Mughal architecture still linger, And just a glimpse of these structures and their magnanimity you will be left in awe. such is the sheer brilliance and beauty of Srinagar. Much has been said about the Mughals’ love for Kashmir; they were captivated by the weather and the landscape inspired them to build elaborate gardens in Srinagar. But Akbar came to Kashmir at the peak of a great famine, building the walled-city of Nagar Nagar. Nagar Nagar was one of the many initiatives he took to usher in a period of unparalleled prosperity and cultural revival. Nagar Nagar comprises a stone rampart encircling the Hari Parbat — Koh-i-Maran, on three sides and opening out on to the Nigeen Lake on the east, it has two entrances – the Sangin Darwaza and Kathi Darwaza. A Pathan fort with a simple and functional design stands on top of Nagar Nagar now. Hari Parbat is replete with ancient Hindu myths and was also known as Sarika Parvata, named after a Hindu Goddess.
It was Akbar’s great grandson, Prince Dara Shikoh who brought great scholarship and learning to the site. He built Akhun Mulla’s Mosque, a significant mid-17th century Mughal structure midway along the hill of Makhdum Sahib, for his tutor Akhun Mulla Shah. With a simple design of grey limestone, the mosque complex includes a lower level of arched halls used by pilgrims and scholars, and a hamam.
The walk starts from the Gurdwara Chatti Padsha, in Rainawari, where it is believed that the sixth Guru of Sikhs stayed and preached during his travels through Kashmir. The walk leads up to Makhdoom Sahib, the shrine of Sheikh Hamza Makhdum, passing the southern gate of Nagar Nagar, the Kathi Darwaza. A spectacular view of Dal and Nigeen lakes. along with the old city of Srinagar, can be enjoyed from atop.
The walk the meanders down to Badamwari, where for centuries, the people of Srinagar would assemble to announce the arrival of spring with music and mirth. And if you sit for a mere few minutes among the almond trees, amid mesmerising views, you might just catch the wind humming the tones of those forgotten songs.
South of Hari Parbat, are the two graveyards – Mazar-i-Kalan, and Malkah. They acted as barriers between the walled city of Nagar Nagar and Srinagar. Workshops of Crewel, An embroiderers and Namdah — felted rug makers, are found in the neighbourhoods around Malkah and Qutubudinpora today.
Also read: Mughal Gardens in Srinagar
Lal Chowk Walk
The walk starts at the newly built plaza in Lal Chowk, a present-day commercial hub. We then pass through lanes lined with shops selling namdas and other crafts at Koker Bazar, the fish market on Amira Kadal, and a wholesale cloth market and gold jewellery market, along Hari Singh High Street – a colonial plaza with long extended porticoes and wooden fretwork.
The significant structures in the area are the Sherghari Palace, Saddar Court complex, Gurdwara, and the Sri Pratap Singh Museum along the Bund.
The walk ends at the Christian cemetery, which among others, houses the grave of Robert Thorpe, the first European who lied trying to highlight the plight of Kashmir’s poor.
With the change of administration from Mughal to Afghan rule in the late 18th century, the grandeur of the past became muted. The Amira Kadal and Palace fort complex of Sherghari near Shaheedgunj was built by the Afghan Governor Amir Khan Jawan Sher.
During the Sikh and Dogra period, given the steady flow of European visitors, doctors and missionaries to Kashmir, the southern areas of the city were revived as the main city centre, together with the old name – Srinagar. This area developed, blending vernacular concepts of architecture with new ideas, designs and building techniques from Europe.
The Bund came up as a one and half kilometre long walking mall between Ram Munshi Bagh and Sheikh Bhag (zero Bridge to Amira Kadal). The British residents, the missionaries and tourists Preferred to live by the Bund, the site of the first houseboats in the valley. when Kashmir emerged as an oriental challenge to Venice.
On the right side of the Jhelum and the Residency, which houses the current day Government Art and Craft emporium, was the first motorable road In the city Residency Road.
Pilgrim's Walk in Srinagar
Srinagar has been the confluence of various religions philosophies such as Buddhism, Shaivism and Islam, since the 13th century, it has been the home to various Sufi cultures. The Pilgrim’s walk takes us through these holy sites. which are a mix of grand sacred architecture and humble vernacular architecture. One such example is the Baghdadi Mohalla, where a community of copper artisans trace their origins to Baghdad and the potters’ workshops in Khanyar. The walk encompasses both historical, religious sites, as well as contemporary folk culture such as the Pokhriwala shops- vendors of local medicinal herbs and the Naan Wai or Kashmiri bakers.
Sultan Shihab-ud-din in the mid-14th century constructed his palace in the present day area of Shampora, southeast the Jamia Masjid, Thereafter, Sultan Qutub-ud-din established Qutubuddinpora and Pir Mohalla. His son Sultan Sikander in 1399 AD completed a palace at Nowhatta, and with the help of Mir Mohammad Hamadani, built the grand Jamia Masjid. While Sultan Zain•ul•Abidin shifted his capital further north to Nowshera, Nowhatta remained a very important area because of its shrines, mosques and khanqahs, as the centre of the Kashmiri Sultanate.
The Chak Sultan, Hassan Shah, built the Bagh-I-Hasssan, the earliest record of a royal garden and Palace, which dame the Nakshband Sahib later in 17th century. This area was gifted by Emperor Jehangir to Khwaja Mahmud Nakshbandi, a prominent Sufi of the Nakshbandi order, and also built the present Khanqah of Nakshband Sahib. Many of the Nakshbandi family are buried here in the cemetery, along with the martyrs of 1931, who rose in revolt against the feudal powers of the Time. The adjoining area is called Ranger Mohalla, after the community of Pashmina dyers.
The Nalmar canal was built by Sultan Zain ul Abidin to supply water to the city. The canal was later filled up to form the Nallahmar road on which stands the Dastgeer Sahib. A relic of the renowned Syed Abdul Buzargh Shah, a prominent Qadrisufi, was brought by an Afghan traveller and deposited here. The Khanqah was built by Khwaja Sanaullah Shawl in the 18th century.
Also read: Shrines and Mosques in Kashmir