Indulgent houseboats, historic gardens, distinctive Kashmiri wooden mosques and a mild summer climate combine to make Srinagar one of India’s top domestic tourist attractions. Except, that is, when intercommunal tensions paralyse the city with strikes and curfews. Srinagar’s three main areas converge around Dalgate, where the southwestern nose of Dal Lake passes through a lock gate. Northwest lies the Old City, fascinatingly chaotic in normal times but largely out-of-bounds during curfews. The busy commercial centre is southwest around Lal Chowk. The city’s greatest drawcard is mesmerisingly placid Dal Lake, which stretches in a southwestern channel towards the city centre, paralleled by the hotel-lined Boulevard from which a colourful array of houseboats form a particularly colourful scene. This area usually remains free of trouble even duing the worst disturbances, as do the famous Mughal gardens, strung out over several kilometres further east around the lake.
For a visual portrait of Dal Lake life, watch the prize-winning 2012 movie Valley of Saints.