Adventures in Harwan: From Paragliding to Buddhist Monasteries

Harwan is a small village located about 20 km from the city center of Lalchowk in Srinagar, Kashmir, India. Easily reachable by the airport which lies 28 km from the place, Harwan is a famous vacation, adventure travel, and picnic spot for tourists. Home to the Dachigam National Park, 1st century Buddhist Monastery, paragliding venues, scenic Chinar gardens, majestic Zabarwan mountains, and exquisite Kashmiri cuisines, Harwan offers experiences to the heart’s content. Let’s take a look into what this place in India presents an adventure traveler.

The majestic Chinar Bagh

Harwan garden is home to a splendid colony of Chinars; enormous trees with leaves changing color every season, adding to the beauty of any place they dwell. Well maintained and structured, the aura of this bagh is aesthetically pleasing to all senses. It was built around the time when Maharajas ruled Kashmir. Lush greenery, flowers of every hue, and frothing streams decorate this garden. It is open all around the year for tourists except on Mondays, for maintenance purposes. This gardens also holds a water reservoir called ‘Sarbandh’ for use of the locals. It is situated below the foothills of the famous Zabarwan range. This range extends to reach the great mountain peak, Mahadev.
zabarwan mountains

Sarbandh – Harwan

Explore wildlife at Dachigam National Park

Another compelling reason to visit Harwan is the Dachigam National Park. Located just 3 km from the Harwan garden, this national park is the pride of Kashmir. It hosts a variety of flora and fauna, ranging from small prey to large carnivores. However, the park is most famous for ‘Hangul’; the red deer species of Asia found only in this park and nowhere else in the world. Its IUCN status is endangered, however, recent conservation efforts have led to an increase in their population. In Dachigam, tourists can find a Trout fish farm and a guest house located in lower parts of the national park. To access higher reaches, treks are conducted under supervision from forest guards and guides. The park also holds snow leopards brought from all over the valley fro rehabilitation. For adventure travel and treks, Dachigam is irreplaceable. The park is home to the famous Dagwan stream originating from the glacial lake in the upper Himalayas. It fulfills water requirements of Harwan and adjoining areas.

Further up into the clouds

A few kilometers from the national park, one can find paragliding venues. This place, located in Dara, is imperative for those who zest for adrenaline rushes. Managed by the Department of Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir, this place is retrofitted to meet the needs of all who pass. Beginning from up above with a birds-eye view of the whole Harwan hamlet, tourists land near Chandpora, Harwan fields way beyond their starting point. A thrilling experience and captivating beauty lie ahead for all those who wish to experience the same.

Catch your breath at the ancient monasteries

Just a few steps to the right would take you up the hills to an ancient Buddhist monastery where the 4th Buddhist council of the Mahayana was held somewhere around 1st or 2nd century CE. Nagarjuna, a famous Buddhist master, also called this monastery his home. He proposed the great theory of ‘sunyata’ or ’emptiness’. This thought revolutionized the Buddhist concept. Although not many tourists know about this place, its significance does not waver and is indeed a great archeological site.

Hiking and camping in the Zabarwan mountains

To experience the essence of mountains, hike or camp. Harwan, located just below the Zabarwan hills, is one of the most famous spots for hiking activities in the district. Feasible tracks, plenty of fresh streams, and good places to camp make it unavoidable for tourists to miss this opportunity. One can either rent out camping essentials from the Tourism department or bring their own. A beautiful view is in store for you with mesmerizing sunrises and ethereal sunsets. Harwan is the best spot you will ever find in Srinagar, Kashmir for a fulfilling camping experience.

Stay at low-cost hotels or guesthouses

Apart from adventure and fun, Harwan is a modest place to stay in. With hotels and guesthouses offering hard-to-miss services to tourists, one can rest at ease in this little hamlet. Guesthouses are available with catering services from best restaurants nearby. Or you can cook in the kitchens provided. Bus service is available to all tourists. For cabs, you can contact the hotel manager.
roads in harwan

Through the twilight – Harwan roads

Late-night drives along Foreshore

For completing your stay in Harwan, it is mandatory to visit the Foreshore road late at night, for a scenic view of the Dal Lake. Dal Lake is the most famous lake of India with houseboats and shikaras to adorn its beauty. The sight at night is enough to take your breathe away. With mountains embroidered all around the lake, it looks gorgeous at night.

Cuisines to relish

After a day of fun, the human body is tired and needs to replenish the energy spent.  Delectable cuisines bound to melt away your tiredness through aromatic spices and fresh vegetables, grilled or sauteed, await. Harwan holds several restaurants famous for the Kashmiri wazwan, a seven-course meal prepared to ease away all your worries, with minced meat and vegetables. Deliveries to hotels and guesthouses are also provided as per request. But the best of all eateries are street vendors selling spiced, roasted lamb or beef. These can be relished with garnished chutneys and enjoyed with a steaming cup of noon chai (salt Kashmiri tea) on the side. Freshly baked bread is available in the mornings and evenings at local bakers around the locality at a low price.

Assistance in case of emergency

Proper assistance is provided to tourists in case of any emergency. The nearest Public Health Center is in Chandpora, Harwan. Doctors, nurses, and non-medical staff are available for any aid. In addition to this, a police station is also in the vicinity, located near Harwan garden. Harwan is an exciting tourist destination that fulfills requirements of both, the new and seasoned traveler, alike. Enjoy and witness miracles of nature at Harwan.      

Adeela Hameed

A seasoned writer, editor, and an avid environmentalist, my passion for travel has only grown with time. An enthusiast of East Asian cultures and of places faraway. Writing makes me feel complete.