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Tourism in Kashmir:

Tourism forms an integral part of the Kashmiri economy. Often dubbed "Paradise on Earth," Kashmir's mountainous landscape has attracted tourists for centuries.

There are many mosques serving the largely Muslim population, such as the Hazratbal Mosque, situated on the banks of the Dal Lake. The sacred hair of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUHP) is said to have been brought to this part of the world by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and this relic lies in the Hazratbal shrine. The shrine was built in white marble in contemporary times and bears a close resemblance to the holy shrine of Medina in Saudi Arabia where the prophet rests.

The Vaishno Devi cave shrine is nestled in the Trikuta mountain at a height of 5,200 feet above the sea level in Indian Kashmir. Vaishno Devi is the most important holy shrine of Shaktism denomination of Hinduism. In 2004, more than 6 million Hindu piligrims visited Vaishno Devi, making it one of the most visited religious sites in the world.

Nature has lavishly endowed Kashmir with certain distinctive favours which hardly find a parallel in any alpine land of the world. A spell on a houseboat on Dal Lake has always been one of the real treats, and Kashmir also offers some delightful trekking opportunities and unsurpassed scenery.

Srinagar City is centred around Dal Lake and this huge lake attracts millions of tourists, both domestic and foreign. A drive along the Boulevard (the road along the banks of the lake) has been a favourite with locals and tourists alike mainly because of the scenic beauty of the boulevard and the shikaras. Srinagar City also has a lot of gardens along the banks of Dal Lake. Nishat, Cheshma-i-Shahi, Shalimar and Harven gardens all were built by the Moghuls and are absolutely breathtaking in view all through the year. These gardens have the famed Chinar trees. These majestic trees resemble Maples but are much bigger and more graceful.

Long ago, Dal Lake was renowned for its vastness, which stretched for more than 50 square miles. Unfortunately, today, due partly to unabated tourist influx that largely has been unorganized for some years now, this lake has shrunk to less than 10 square kilometres largely due to the abundance of residential and tourist sectors along its banks. Government mismanagement and apathy have also been contributing factors to the shrinking of the lake.

Pahalgam is at the junction of the streams flowing from Sheshnag Lake and the Lidder River. Pahalgam (2,130 meters) once was a humble shepherd's village with astounding views. Today, Pahalgam is Kashmir's prime tourist resort. It is cool even during the height of summer when the maximum temperature does not exceed 25 degrees C.


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