For five centuries, the battlements of the Hari Parbat Fort have loomed large over the Dal. But Srinagar’s lake placid now lies besieged by a fortress of another kind. Veiled by secrecy and fiercely shielded from prying eyes, the Vivanta by Taj—Dal View luxury hotel (from Rs 13,000, taxes extra; perched on Kralsangri hill, has finally flung its doors open. And yet again, the valley is brimming with the hope of a revival. Owned by a local concern, Saifco Hill Crest Hotels, and managed by the Taj Group, the hotel’s journey from drawing board to grand opening was made over two long decades. Over its extended gestation period, it has fought resistance from environmentalists as well as the state’s own longstanding battle with insurgency. Now sprawled across six acres of fair grounds, it’s a stack of 89 rooms, including a 2,500 sq ft presidential suite overlooking the Dal and the riotous-in-summer Mughal and Tulip Gardens. Marked by a contemporary aesthetic, Vivanta’s signature style, and generosity of space—private balconies, outsize bathrooms and quivering infinity pools—it’s also the only five-star and no-smoking hotel in the state. The grand opening led to an inevitable hullabaloo, including a prompt proposal by the chief minister to increase the number of Srinagar-Leh flights.

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