Srinagar is the summer capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and the largest city in the Kashmir region.
The city has become safer to travel since 2003, however the streets are still lined with armed soldiers. Any building of value will also have a sandbag bunker and razor wire for protection. If arriving from the airport, you will also notice hundreds of large, Western style vacation homes. These were built before the current conflict when domestic travel to Kashmir was booming. Currently most of these homes are empty, being squatted in or have been usurped for military use. Most people visit the city in the summer months. The temperature at this time is cool to pleasant. Light sweaters may be needed for occasional cool nights in the summertime. In winter, you will need full winter gear and expect snow and few places to have hot water.
Many people take the train to Jammu followed by a taxi or bus ride to Srinagar. The journey from Jammu to Srinagar is costlier in the summers because the capital is being shifted from Jammu to Srinagar on both the state buses and Sumos. State buses are safer but take more time and are a bit uncomfortable.
Foreign travelers on visas are required to register upon arrival at the airport or to their hotel or houseboat.
Sheikh ul Alam Airport (Urdu: شیخ العالم ہوائی اڈا) (Hindi: शेख़ उल आलम हवाई अड्डा) is commonly known as Srinagar Airport (Urdu: سری نگر کے ہوائی اڈا) (Hindi: श्रीनगर हवाई अड्डा) It is an international airport (IATA: SXR) (ICAO: VISR).
A new terminal for arrivals and departures with air bridges and other up to date operational facilities was inaugurated on 14 February 2009. International, domestic and seasonal Hajj pilgrimage charters to Jeddah are operated from Sheikh ul Alam airport.
Flights are operated by Jet Airways, Air Deccan, SpiceJet, Kingfisher Airlines, Go Air, Jet Lite and Indian Airlines  from Delhi and Mumbai to Srinagar, with or without a stopover at Jammu. The frequency is once or twice a day by each airline. The cost is approx Rs 2,500 from Jammu, Rs 2,500-5,000 from Delhi one way and higher from Mumbai, depending on the season.
The airport is still heavily patrolled and you may see many soldiers or other armed security detachments. Winter flights can easily be canceled due to weather conditions. Tickets are easy to purchase in the city. The airport requires a ticket for entrance. A taxi into town should be Rs 550 and direct to Gulmarg is Rs 1,500-2,000
When departing Srinagar by air, make sure you have a printed copy of your ticket at hand, otherwise you will not be able to enter the airport. Additionally, allow approximately 1 hr to get from Srinagar to the airport. Security checks can cause traffic to bank up if there are a few flights leaving at around the same time.
Hiring a TATA Sumo SUV (fits up to 9 people, or 5 comfortably plus luggage) from Jammu costs approximately Rs 1,900-2,700 depending on time of year or even time of day. To reduce costs many people choose not to take an exclusive taxi, and share the Sumo taxi with other travelers. This costs about Rs 300-400 per person. For a comfortable trip, try for a seat in the middle row - the front bucket seat is (sometimes uncomfortably) shared by 2 people, and the far back could be quite bumpy as the highway is full of mountainous roads. The journey takes around 4 hr.
J&K State Road Transport Corporation (J&KSRTC) operates fairly comfortable buses from Jammu costing around Rs 350 and do the journey in around 12 hr. 2 day buses run between Srinagar and Leh staying overnight in Kargil.
There are also direct buses from Delhi taking almost 24 hr to reach Srinagar.
Auto-rickshaws can be found everywhere. Taxis and buses area also available. Motorcycles can also be rented for enthusiasts.
Negotiate a price with a rickshaw driver before getting in, or just act like you know and pay the driver upon arrival. Drivers usually don't speak English but there will always be a passer-by to help translate for you.
A rickshaw from Nigeen Lake to Boulevard is approx. Rs 70 depending on negotiation skills (August 2009 prices).
Usually private service buses run throughout the city and are well networked with major tourist spots.
The Mughal Gardens With terraced lawns, cascading fountains, paint-box-bright flowerbeds with the panorama of the Dal in front of them - the three Mughal Gardens of Chesmashahi, Nishat and Shalimar are the Mughal Emperors' concept of paradise and are today very popular places for picnics and excursions. The beauty of these gardens is at their best during spring but the Mughal structure of these gardens lends them a unique sense of beauty even when the flowers are not blossoming.
All the hotels organize excursions (1, 2, 4 days) to see the Himalayan mountains. Beside that package tours by JKTDC can be a good option. Using an honest guide or fixer can potentially save you money on goods and accomodation.
Go for a Shikara ride in the Dal lake which costs around Rs 150 (off season) - Rs 500 (peak season) for the whole Shikara. For better views and a more peaceful ride in an area devoid of other tourists, walk up a fair bit of distance till you can see the fountain and ask the Shikara rider to take you for a ride to the fountain. It costs Rs 300 (off season) - Rs 600 (peak season). Make sure you bargain a little, especially in off season. If you are staying longer, you could go on shikara rides more than once... each time to a different part of the lake. A must see is the "village" in the lake. Ask for a ride to the side where locals live and see the floating vegetable market. The market is usually operational only at sunrise and is easiest organised through an agent or your hotel/houseboat.
There are numerous bakeries in the city. Kashmiris are very fond of bakery products especially pasteries and cakes and you can find these bakeries very crowded especially around the times of major festivals. The more famous bakeries include
There are a number of restaurants and cafes in Srinagar. Most of the good ones are located in Lal chowk or on Boulevard along the banks of the Dal Lake. Most of the restaurants will serve Kashmiri, Indian, Mughlai and 'Indianized' Chinese dishes. Some pure veg restaurants are also located along Boulevard. Among the veg restaurants 'Krishna Dhaba' is the most popular for its Rajma-and-kheer.
Make sure you try dishes like Rogan-gosht (meat cooked in red gravy), Gushtaba(soft meat balls cooked in natural yoghurt),Rishta (Soft Meat Balls in delicious Gravy), Tabakmaaz(deep fried ribs of a lamb) and Kanti(small chunks of meat cooked with a lot of onions). All these Meat Items are usually eaten with Rice, hence the gravy is not thick.
Another popular local delicacy called Seekh-tuji consists of marinated meat pieces which are freshly barbecued and eaten with chutney. Most of these vendors are located in the Khayaam region of the city. This place is usually teeming with the youth especially in the evenings.
Enjoy the grilled mutton available in Srinagar. This is referred to as a "tilli" or "tekh" and mostly eaten by locals.
Kahwah is a traditional green tea recipe from Kashmir. The tea is made from green tea leaves with saffron strands, cinnamon bark and cardamom pods.Some varieties are made as a herbal infusion only, without the green tea leaves. Generally, it is served with sugar or honey, and crushed nuts, usually almonds or walnuts. There is another form of tea that is quite famous amongst the locals, its called 'Namkeen Chai' or 'Nun Chai'. It is pink in color and is also called Pink Tea. It is made from black tea, cardamom, various spices, salt and bicarbonate of soda. Also people like nune toath and dum toath which are very famous among sufis. Nunetoath is nunechai without milk and Dumtoath is strong form of Kahwa.
If searching for a beer or other drink there is a small bottle shop on the Boulevard. It's at the base of a hotel about halfway up the street and looks like a mini-fort knox. Ask people on the street and they'll point you in the right direction.
Srinagar is popular for its houseboats, which do not float free around the lake, but are anchored off-shore. It is a great and unique way to enjoy your stay in the city. Houseboats are accessible either by road, or by a short "Shikara" boat ride. Each houseboat usually has 2-5 bedrooms plus bath, dining room, living room, upper deck (good for sunbathing).
Many travelers tell stories of bad experiences while staying on a houseboat, others enjoy their stay greatly. To avoid bad experiences do not pre-book a houseboat before arriving. With the security situation, the majority are empty and you should be able to get a better price in person, and to get a better feeling of if you'll like the place and the owners. Boats with land access have the advantage of allowing you to leave if you feel uncomfortable, or just like going for a walk, although they tend to be noisier.
There are houseboats on Dal Lake and Nagin Lake. These can cost anything from Rs 1,000 (March 2008) - Rs 5,000 depending upon the time of the year. Houseboats on Nagin lake are upscale and more expensive but are much more beautiful, and the Nagin lake location is serene. Price on Nageen Lake per person in Sept 2005 was Rs 500 per night including 2 meals. Expect to pay up to Rs 3,000 for a couple on the deluxe boats. Boats on the Jhelum river are cheaper yet, but still comfortable, and close to the bus station, good if you are just transiting Srinagar to or from Ladakh.
Be sure to take a 1 hour boat tour of the lake inlets to get a nice glimpse of life and wildlife along the lake. Prices are about Rs 300-500 per trip. A few areas are geared up for attracting tourists, but most much of the area is still reasonably untouched.
There are a wide range of hotels around Dal Lake. Prices vary from Rs 500-5,000.
double room starting at Rs 2,500. In off-season, rooms can even be bargained upto Rs 400. The in-house restaurant serves North Indian food as well as chicken delicacies.
There are also some houseboats on quieter Nagin Lake.
Other houseboats can be found on Jahlul river near Information center and Bus station.
To see around one should take the package tours offered by the JK tourism, situated in Tourist Information Centre. Also one can get the return ticket to Jammu or elsewhere from JK tourism, as they are reliable and safe.