Srinagar is the Capital city of India’s northernmost State- Jammu and Kashmir and the Headquarters of Srinagar District. Positioned at 34°5′24″N 74°47′24″E, Srinagar has an average elevation of 5200 feet above sea level. Srinagar city sprawls over both sides of River Jhelum in the Kashmir Valley.
‘Sri-nagar’ comprises two Sanskrit words – ‘Sri’ which means wealth & abundance and ‘nagar’ which means city. Together the words mean – a city of wealth which Srinagar is. Two other theories afloat about the origin of the name of Srinagar are – (i) that the Pandava King Ashoka (distinct from the Mauryan King) built the city of Srinagar and named it ‘Srinagari’ and (ii) that the Mauryan Emperor – Ashoka founded Srinagar which was then 6 kilometres north of the present city of Srinagar.
Srinagar city lies in the centre of Kashmir Valley and is the Summer Capital of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir. The city sprawls on the banks of River Jhelum – a major territory of River Indus. Home to and famous for its many gardens, lakes and houseboats, Srinagar is more synonymous with ‘Kashmir’ than any other city or town of the State.
The city of Srinagar was known to be a big boundless lake once, as mentioned in Kalhana’s ‘Rajatarangini’ – a chronicle that recorded the history of Kashmir and its Kingdoms and Kings. Legend has it that Rishi Kashyap drained out the water from this lake and made the area habitable. The two tribes – Pisacas and the Yakshas were the original inhabitants of the region of Srinagar. Ruled by the Buddhism-centred King of the Mauryan Empire – Ashoka and the Mughal Dynasty for centuries, Srinagar still portrays this diverse history through its landscape, architecture and culture and the spoken word. Srinagar city once had a market and mansions that were made of wood that towered over the cityscape of Srinagar – as recorded by the popular chronicler of Kashmir and translator of ‘Kalhana’ – Sir Aurel Stein. Srinagar city bears a mention in the memoirs of the famous Chinese traveller and chronicler – Hieun Tsang.
Though several other capitals were established for the region of Jammu and Kashmir earlier, the city of Srinagar was destined to be the capital of the State. The other capitals - Avantivarman's Avantipur and cities of Kanishkapura and Juskapura, Praverpora of Praversen, Parihaspora of Lalitaditya, Jayapida's Jayapora are now found only in ruins or in history.
Festivals of Srinagar:
Apart from the general festivals of the country such as Lohri, Baisakhi, Navratri Festival, Jammu and Kashmir has certain festivals that are indigenous to that region:
1.Bahu Mela – (March–April & September-October) – a big festival that is celebrated at the Kali Temple in the Bahu Fort.
2.Purmandal Mela – (February-March) – it is a celebration of the marriage of Lord Shiva to Goddess Parvati, celebrated at Peer Khoh, Ranbireshwar Temple and the Panjbhaktar Temple.
3.Chaitre Chaudash – (March-April) - celebrated at ‘Uttar Behni’
4.Vaitha-Vaur-Truvah – (August-September) – held at an ancient temple at Verinag which is the source of River Jhelum where Kashmiris worship River Jhelum.
5.Jhiri Mela – (October-November) – is an annual fair held in the honour of Baba Jitu of Jhiri Village.
6.Khichri Amavasya – (December-January) – a typical Kashmiri festival celebrated commemorating the ‘Yakshas’ of the ancient times.
7.Urs or Ziarats – a typical Kashmiri festival celebrated at the shrines of the Muslim Saints commemorating their death anniversaries.
8.Jeth Ashtami – the Birthday of Goddess Rajnya, Hindus fast on this day and take the pilgrimage to Tulmula’s Kheer Bhawani Temple.
9.Tiky Tsoram – this festival is popular among the Tiku clan of the Kashmiri Pandits who worship Goddess Tripura Sudari.