Set like a jewelled crown on the map of India, Kashmir is a many faceteddiamond, changing character with the seasons - always extravagantly beautiful.Three Himalayan ranges, Karakoram, Zanaskar and Pir Panjal - snow capped,majestic, frame the landscape from northwest to northeast. They are the birthplace of great rivers which flow through the kashmir valley.RajTaringini the chronology of the Kashmir Kings written by Kalhana eulogises the beauty of Kashmir as follows:"Kasmira Parvati Paroksh; Tat Swami ch Maheswara". Meaning Kashmir is as beautiful as Goddess Parvati manifest; and its owner is Lord Shiva Himself" And the Mughal Emperor exclaimed "Gar Bar-ru-e-Zamin Ast ; Hamin Ast ,Hamin Ast Hamin Asto. Meaning if there is paradise on this earth : This is it, this is it, this is it.
Srinagar is at once a collection of images: a son-et- lumiere that tells the story of the love of the Mughal emperors for this paradise vale; deep green rice fields and river bridges of gardens in bloom and lakes rimmed by houseboats; at once summer capital of the state,business centre and holiday resort.
Srinagar is as much imagination as it is fact,for every season offers new vistas to this city of great antiquity. Spring breathes life again into a frozen world and the air is heady with the fragrance of a million flowers that blossom on trees, shrubs and creepers.Summer heightens the effect and autumn is poignant in its colours of warm introspection. Winter brings with it snow,sometimes the Dal Lake freezes and beneath a leaden sky, roasted chestnuts turn the atmosphere aromatic with the promise of warmth and comfort.
The river Jhelum and the Dal and Nagin lakes dominate Srinagar and its life and activities.Here lush wild gardens of lotus and waterlily flower amidst bustling lanes.By the lakeside spread the gardens of the Mughals in patterned beauty.And the people move with a tranquillity borne of a history laden pulse of activity.
IF legends are to be believed, the Kashmir valley was once a lake as large as a sea and here lived an abominable demon who was killed after most of the lake had been drained with the collective help of Brahma's grandson, Kashap and the goddess Parvati.She wasfinally stilled the demon by dropping upon him a mountain and thereby crushing him to death.This legendary mountain is no other than Hari Parbat, Srinagar's 'Takht-i- Sulaiman' hill that forms the famous backdrop to the city.