Srinagar Page

Antique engraving of the floating gardens looking south toward the Takht-e-Sulaiman “hill.” Downtown Srinagar will be somewhere a couple of miles to your right. Notice in the distance the tiny group of lake-side buildings near the left edge of the engraving. These are understood to be part of the wine factory that is marked also on the right edge of the map following:

The prominent Takht-e-Sulaiman rises from the lake level some 1000 ft or more (height disputed). The 8th-century Sankaracharya temple (date disputed) perches atop the hinter peak in the engraving. The British Quarter of Srinagar lay sheltered behind the precipitious southern slope of this hill. There was the Residency itself and library, a post office for our kind, a telegraph office, the ‘Dak Bungalow’, English shops, and an English church in the park (Munshi Bagh). Not to mention a burial ground and a hospital, not necessarily in that order. The mile-long straight road (shown prominently on the map, but unnamed) that passes by the Post Office in the British quarter is the famous Poplar Avenue, of which the internet has period pictures that come and go. Dal Lake today is notable also for its floating trash.

Here atop the Takht-e-Sulaiman, “Throne of Solomon,” and the Sankaracharya temple up close. See it again in the engraving above, on the hinter peak.

The Jhelum River is seen on the map to be crossed by seven city bridges (nine today) counted from the south. The embankments between the first (near Sher Garhi) and the last were constructed of large limestone blocks, though these were largely in ruin in the 19th century. Some of these blocks were carved pieces taken from demolished buildings and temples. The supports for the bridges were done with layers of crossed wood, reported to be of Himalayan cedar or deodar.

The second city bridge (~ kadal) shown above was the Haba Kadal, “which in former days,” according to Dr Wakefield’s Sketches, “was not unlike Old London Bridge on a smaller scale, for a row of wooden shops ran along both its sides, overhanging the water.” These shops had burned down a few years before his visit (that was in 1875) and the buildings were never replaced, again in imitation of Old London Bridge.

Above, the serpentine passage of the Jhelum river on the high flats above the city on its southern edge (compare with lower-right corner of the map below). This mountain-avoiding view looks northwesterly, the direction of the river’s flow.

The serpentine passage of the Jhelum river seen at the bottom of this map can be seen in the preceding photograph. The Pandrethan Temple marked on the map is hiding in the trees in the foreground of the photo, beside the postal runners’ route. From John Murray’s Handbook for Travellers in India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon, 17th edition (1955).

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