I visited Srinagar in May/June and walked around the old part of the city. This is where most of the famous shrines and mosques of Srinagar are located, but from what I saw on the day I was there (in the middle of tourist season), it’s not much visited by outsiders. This post though focuses on the houses and streetscapes of the old city.
At the level of urban structure the old city is much like other “old parts of town” in the subcontinent – a maze of narrow and winding streets flanked by two to three story high buildings. Like many other such cities, the existing building stock here seems to be mostly of a late-19th c to early-20th c vintage. From the point of view of architectural style though, Srinagar’s old city is quite unique. There is an obvious European influence, but unlike say Old Delhi, where the predominant architectural style of that period is a mix of late-Mughal inspired forms and colonial influences, including western classicism and neo-gothic touches (to which, in the early-20th c, are added flourishes of diluted avant garde styles).
Instead, the western influences in Srinagar seem to be taken from more northerly European latitudes (as befits the climate of Srinagar), and are less classical in nature. This, combined with local building materials and techniques, makes the landscape in this part of Srinagar quite fascinating to take in. I do not know if the patronage of these structures was British or Kashmiri – I would think predominantly the latter – but I’d love to read a detailed study of the old city’s urban history.
Of course another unique feature of this old city is the beautiful Jhelum river that passes through it, polluted waters notwithstanding!
I should also mention that this part of Srinagar is a center of activity during protests etc, and is dotted with military posts and bunkers, which unfortunately I did not (even try to) photograph.
These pictures are organized basically in the same sequence as my walk, starting at Dal Gate and then progressing through Khanyar, Nohata, Zaina Kadal, Nawa Bazaar (in an area just to the west of Fateh Kadal), Fateh Kadal, Habba Kadal, Munawarabad, Badh Shah Kadal and finally ending at Lal Chowk. I mostly stayed on the main roads leading from Dal Gate to Nohata (near the Jami Masjid) and then from Nohata to Lal Chowk, so this is in no way a comprehensive exploration of the old city.