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Jammu and Kashmir: Wular Lake, Manasbal, Ganderbal and Khir Bhawani
If you take a conducted tour by bus to Wular lake, it will leave at 8am, and return in the evening , completing Pattan, Wular, Khir Bhawani and Ganderbal, a total distance of around 137 kms.
Raja Shankar Varma of 9th century had built two temples, one of Shiva and the other of Swaraswati, both of which are in ruins. The bus gives a 15 minute halt here to visit them. The place was also his capital and was known as Shankarpur at that time.
River Beas will accompany you throughout the journey to Wular lake, with Pine, Fir and Poplar trees giving you the guard of honor on the way. 51 kms from Srinagar is Wular lake, and it is a huge lake spanning 19km by 10 km, making it the biggest fresh water lake of India. It is situated at a height of 1580 km, the depth of the lake averages at 30 feet.
Scenery is beautiful at Wular lake with snow covered mountain ranges overlooking the lake. Large expanses of Greens abound everywhere, so does the mystique of Kashmir. One can also choose to boat at Wular. You can also climb up Baba Sukuruddin Mountain (Watlab) on the western side of the Lake, to get a beautiful view of the lake below. There is also a bungalow here to stay, called Watlab Bungalow. However, there is rain and thunderstorm almost every evening at Wular, so it is advisable that you do not go for boating in the evenings. The Jhelum meets at Wular after emerging from Verinag, and flows out from Wular at Sopore. Conducted tour bus gives a halt of 30 minutes only here.
Manasbal Lake: Manasbal lake will appear to be a dwarf if you compare it to wular. It stretches for a mile and width is about half a mile. The waters appear to be of dark blue in color. The place is about 29 kms off Srinagar, and is situated at a height of 1560km. The waters are covered with lotuses in the summers, while the migratory birds take their place in the winters. The ruins of Daroga Bag Jharokha, built by Roshenara, daughter of Shah Jahan, can be visited here. The bus will halt for 15 minutes, which should be enough for the shutter happy people.
Mata Khir Bhawani: One of the piths of the 51 piths of mata, Khir bhavani is an important hindu religious destination. Swami Vivekananda worshipped the Devi from 30th September to October 6th in 1898. The temple is situated on an island, which can be reached by a wooden bridge. Maharaja Pratap Singh had built this small marble temple. The deity is made of Black stone. There is also a white Shivalingam at the temple. The dome of the temple is enveloped in Gold. At the front of the temple is the all important seven pointed kund, in which worshippers offer their offerings. The kund is known as Khirsagar. It is said that the deity of Khirbhavani was found in this kund.
There are a few more temples here too, of Devi Durga, Buddha and Mahavir.
While coming back to Srinagar from Khir Bhavani, you will come to Ganderbal. It is at a distance of 5 km from Khir bhavani and 21 kms from Srinagar, and is situated at a height of 5100 feet. It is a small Kashmiri village. The water of Gandharbal has medicinal properties and provides cure for digestive ailments. The last remains after cremation of Kashmiri Hindus are also immersed in Gandarbal lake. The lake provides a spectacular view of the Indus valley. One can also take the water route and tour Gandharbal in about 6 hours.