Lal Chowk

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Timings : The shops in Lal Chowk open late in the morning, usually around 9:30 AM and close around 8:00 PM

Time Required : 1-2 hours

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Lal Chowk, Anantnag Overview

The historic and strategic importance of Lal Chowk has been ever present in the Indian history books since the struggle for freedom that the country overcame in 1947. Named after the much famed Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Lal Chowk translates to the same name. The name was given by left-wing activists. Located in the centre of the city of Srinagar, it has witnessed several historical moments in its lifetime - from the unfurling of the national flag here in 1948 by former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru to the infamous attacks on the then BJP president Murali Manohar Joshi by Pakistani militants in 1992. It houses the famous Ghanta Ghar - Clock Tower, which was built here in 1980.

The city square is renowned for its share of political meetings, rallies, and addressing by influential political figures. Though its fame rose due to the political instability in the area, Lal Chowk is also a notable destination for shopping. The market area here sells authentic jewelry, ornaments, wedding items, and silverware. It is one of the most visited and popular shopping sites in Srinagar. You can also buy pretty Kashmiri paintings and traditional ethnic wear that are known for their embroidery and intricate designs such as pherans, fantastic pashmina shawls, and pathani suits. Lal Chowk is a special landmark that oozes a rich political and cultural history in one spot.

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History of Lal Chowk

Jawaharlal Nehru took a pledge: "The fate of Kashmir will ultimately be decided by the people. We have given that pledge, and Maharaja (Hari Singh) had supported it. It is not only a pledge to the people of Kashmir but the world. We will not, and cannot back out of it", over here. The clock tower built in 1980 came into significance in 1992 after BJP President Murli Manohar Joshi came to hoist the flag atop the tower on Republic Day. In 1993, there was a fire attack on the main commercial center of downtown.

Must Buy Items at Lal Chowk

The streets here are dotted with customers haggling for the best price of the product. The walnut wood found here has the best quality. Small trinkets, carvings made out of walnut wood, jewelry boxes and handlooms, everything here is sold like hot cakes. The market is also famous for Pashmina Handlooms. Also, there are Kashmiri paintings for the art lovers.

Lal Chowk Shopping

Lal Chowk's political past has attracted tourists and visitors for a long time. Although its history overshadows any of its other obscurity or glory, the shopping aspect of Lal Chowk is an amazing incentive to pay a visit. It is located right adjacent to the Jhelum River. From authentic jewellery, trays and furniture made out of walnut wood to exclusively hand-embroidered costumes, pashmina shawls and traditional Kashmiri dresses, there is so much to see and buy here.

The strip of the main square is dotted with numerous art and handicrafts shops which sell fantastic Kashmiri paintings and artefacts. A place to definitely bank on your souvenirs. It serves as a significant business and commercial center in the city. Local dry fruits are also a famous addition to its list of features. Lal Chowk posts a pretty picture of the rich cultural heritage of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The state is the leading manufacturer of saffron in the country, so be sure to buy it for your trip back home!

History of Lal Chowk

Lal Chowk first gained fame when the former prime minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru pledged to a huge rally along with the former chief minister Sheikh Abdullah that guaranteed Kashmiris a referendum to choose their political future. He hoisted the national flag here in 1948. It was here in 1975 that Sheikh Abdullah, who served as the 2nd prime minister for the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir after its accession in 1947, addressed mammoth gathering by the 1975 Indira-Sheikh Accord which allowed him to become the chief minister of the state again after 11 years.

The Ghanta Ghar was erected here in 1980 by Bajaj Electricals. The clock tower gained political importance during the republic day ceremony in 1992 during the flag hoisting session when a rocket aimed at the former BJP president Murali Manohar Joshi, by Pakistani backed militants, fell few feet away from the main square. The infamous Lal Chowk fire of 1993 is another notable incident which engulfed the lives of over 100 civilians. The landmark has been witness to numerous dignitaries, national and international over the years.

Best Time To Visit Lal Chowk

Make sure to survey the political stability of the area before you proceed to Lal Chowk in Srinagar. The place can be visited all throughout the year as the temperatures vary from 15 to 30 degrees Celsius during summers from April to September. The winter months get chilly with subzero temperatures and are fantastic times to enjoy the scenery the region offers.

Tips For Visiting Lal Chowk

Bargaining and haggling are part and parcel of daily business here in Lal Chowk. Prices of items are magnified, thanks to the bargaining custom of the place. So, you can expect to negotiate the prices with shopkeepers.

How To Reach Lal Chowk

The main square of Lal Chowk is present in Srinagar's city center and is a well-noted landmark. Srinagar is well connected by road to major cities like Delhi, Chandigarh and Amritsar which are 820 kilometers, 560 kilometers and 436 kilometers respectively. Private and state transport buses also operate to major towns such as Dehradun, Rishikesh and Haridwar.

The Jammu Tawi railway station connects major cities like Kolkata and Mumbai. The Himsagar express - the third longest running train on the Indian railways originates from here, with Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu as its destination!

The Sheikh-Ul-Alam International Airport serves the city. Although designated the title of an international airport, it does not receive scheduled international flights as of 2017. The airport is well connected to major Indian cities like Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Lucknow etc.

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