Srinagar is popularly known as ‘Heaven on Earth’. It is situated on the banks of river Jhelum. Srinagar is famous for its beautiful houseboats and vibrant Shikaras. This happens on the Dal Lake.
Shikaras are gondola-type rowboats. Tourists take these rides to witness some amazing attractions like Floating Vegetable Markets and the Mir Bahris. Mir Bahris is a community of people who live on the lake.
Srinagar is also famous for its exquisite Mughal age gardens and the Kashmiri cuisine. Trying out some delicious and rich in fragrant spices local dishes is a memorable experience in itself.
Dal Lake is a beautiful hillside lake. It is considered the jewel of Srinagar. This pristine lake is spread over a distance of 26 square kilometres. Gorgeous wooden houseboats are drifting casually on the waters adding to the beauty of the Dal Lake.
The Dal lake consists of four main char chinars amid the lake which is a means of its identification.
The Mughals saw the potential in the Dal lake and encircled it with lovely patios and pavilions and also developed the Shalimar and Nilshad Gardens precisely at a point where the wonderful outstretched lake can be viewed in all its grandeur. The Britishers brought forward the notion of boathouses in the Dal Lake, which moreover elevated tourism to the lake.
Houseboats and Shikara on Dal Lake
Houseboats and Shikara are identical with the Dal Lake, particularly since the Shikaras are a cultural figure and found solely in Srinagar. These are wooden boats tapered at both ends and have elegantly decorated canopies overhead. It is the favoured means of conveyor for locals, and you can see them carrying a diversity of goods across the lake to the shore.
A bizarre shopping adventure in the Dal Lake is that of the lake market, which includes many stores settled right on the centre of the lake. Much like a roadside market would have, vendors are found here as well. They have Shikaras of their own and have all sorts of asset for trade, which includes Kashmir’s masterpieces such as wooden artwork, hand made earrings, saffron and also Kashmiri ponchos.
Another fascinating thing in the waters of Dal Lake is the houseboat. These are stable boats intended to serve as accommodation for tourists. Facing the Dal Lake, they provide the most beautiful views of the lake and its encompassing hills. Houseboats are created of excellent quality wood with elaborate carvings and decorative motifs. These could vary from a simple one-room affair to enormous deluxe suites and are ranked respectively by the Department of Tourism.
Often, the interiors are tastefully furnished with Kashmiri carpets, crystal lights and luxurious fittings. The houseboats are often family-run businesses with delectable home-cooked meals, top-notch amenities such as hot tubs and WiFi, and likeable personalised assistance.
Main Attractions of Dal Lake
Dal Lake is not a single lake but an aggregate of three lakes. These are separated by paths that in itself marks as an attraction. Houseboats with swimming facilities are allotted throughout summer and is a very delightful experience.
The magnificent floating gardens of Dal Lake draws in people from all across the globe. Shikaras boats are the ideal means to enjoy a picturesque ride across the lake, and is a must go to if you are visiting Kashmir.
Another exciting activity in the lake is the market, where merchants have their own Shikaras and approach visitors with their most appealing handicrafts, saffron, edibles and even ice – creams. Ice skating during winter on the frozen Dal Lake also pulls many travellers and is an excellent activity to try under Kashmir’s winter sun.
Dal Lake Layout
Dal Lake is on an average 5 ft deep and goes to a maximum of 20 ft at some points. Covering a shoreline of approximately 15.5 kilometres, the lake covers an area of about 18 square kilometres. It includes four basins- Lokut Dal, Nagin, Gagribal and Bod Dal. In the middle of Bod Dal, there is a small island of Sona Lank. Lokut Dal is also called Rup Lank and Char Chinari.
Floating gardens amid the lake blossom with lotus flowers in July and August, while winter season sees the temperature dropping to -11 °C, freezing the lake. Currently, intense cleaning and maintenance services are started at the lake to return it to its previous grandeur.
Best Time To Visit Dal Lake
May to November is the best time to visit Dal Lake as the weather is favourable. During the winter, it gets very cold.
The supreme reason why people come to Srinagar is for the relaxing and unforgettable Shikara rides. Taking the ride across the beautiful Dal Lake at the backdrop of the grand slow clad Himalaya’s is surely an experience in itself both pleasant and fun.