Dal Lake, Srinagar: Life on Water ?>

Dal Lake, Srinagar: Life on Water

 

                                 Although I had been to Srinagar, Kashmir, a couple of times in the past, I didn’t happen to stay on the Dal Lake on any of the occasions. In fact, it was merely a transit both the times. It was a transit this time too. But I gave myself a couple of days to stay in Srinagar; as going to Srinagar and not experiencing the life on the water is like going to Egypt and not seeing the Pyramids!

The World of House boats and Shikaras

It was the month of August and apparently off-sA typical Shikara on the Dal Lake, Srinagareason for tourism on the Dal Lake and hence, deals were supposed to be better for a stay on the house boats. At the Dal Gate, a Shikara owner Yusuf offered me to show around different house-boats on the lake for my stay. Shikaras are the traditionally designed wooden boats found on the lakes in Srinagar. Tourism and the daily routine of the folks living on the lake revolve around Shikaras.

“Over time, they have become the cultural symbol of Kashmir”

You would find them in various sizes and with various degrees of embellishments.  Practically, every house-boat has at least one Shikara for commuting.  Yusuf showed me a couple of house-boats which were quite close to the Foreshore road. He was a little reluctant to row farther. However, since I was quite insistent on staying well away from the road which circumscribes lake, he obliged. After looking around for 15 minutes, I settled for a room in Latif’s houseboat. I got a wonderful room with hot shower, all meals inclusive, for Rs/-  800.  He checked with me if I wanted his service in the evening for a ride on the lake. I asked him to come back.

Discovering an Old World Charm

Old world charm oozed out of the house boat as soon as I stepped in: Beautiful wooden furniture with intricate carving, elegantly embroidered red carpet  running right through the house boat. Everything was tastefully done. The floor creaked when you walked. Everything was so reminiscent of yesteryears.

Interestingly, Latif is based in France and deals in Kashmiri shawls, whereas his father had never set his foot out of Srinagar”

After a quick shower and a delicious Indian meal I browsed through the small but interesting library. I sat at the front portion of the house boat, observing the affairs on the lake, contemplating and rShikara Ride on the Dal Lake, Srinagareading. I loved just being lazy.  Yusuf returned  in the evening and checked if I wanted to go for a ride on the Dal Lake.  It was time for me to have a closer look at the life on the lake. An eclectic mix of farmers, villagers, holiday makers co-exist with synergy. We rowed through the beautiful floating islands, some with traditionally built kashmiri houses, others with lotus and vegetable gardens.

“Sometimes we had to row over nothing but weed. Yusuf calls it Water-Trekking”

The splash of the oar caressing through the water was absolute music to the ears. It is such a pReflections on the Dal, Lake, Srinagareaceful sound that you could listen to it forever.  Being a wetland, it’s a birder’s paradise as well. Though I am no ornithologist, I could make out that there was a rich diversity.

“The reflections on the placid waters of the lake could deceive anyone”

The Dal Lake is a self-contained world, well, at least for the tourists. Once you are out on a Shikara ride, you have everything from a mobile ice-cream parlor, coffee-shops, photo-studios, florists at your service; a true commercial hub. You could purchase saffron or  the famous pashmina shawls, albeit at the risk of being  sold counterfeits! Once you get back to your houseboat, don’t miss to drink a cup of Kawa, local tea made with saffron.

Although I stayed just for a day, I would suggest staying for 2-3 days. There’s lot more to see in Srinagar and you could always return to the floating abode after your day.

Here are a few more images from the Dal Lake to give you an idea :

A boy steps out of a house-boat, Dal Lake, Srinagar

 

 

 

A young lad steps out of his house on a boat.

 

 

 

 

 

Dal Lake hosts a rich Bird Life

 

 

 

Dal Lake is a Birder’s Paradise

 

 

 

 

 

Flora and Fauna on the Dal Lake, Srinagar

 

 

 

Lotus plants on the Lake

About Praveen Maloo

Praveen is currently based out of Seattle, United States. He loves coffee, conversations, micro-brews, and intimate jazz music scenes. When its not raining in Seattle, he can be seen enjoying the beautiful outdoors of the Pacific North-West.


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15 thoughts on “Dal Lake, Srinagar: Life on Water

    1. hi Jitaditya,

      Thanks for stopping by. Am really glad that you liked the pictures. I hope I can host the photography portfolio as well on the site.

      Your blog looks impressive !! Will go through it and get back.

      Happy Travels!

  1. What a wonderful way to spend an extra day in your travels, Paveen. I loved learning about Dal Lake, Srinagar and Shikaras. I loved your photos – especially the one of the surrealistic sky.

    1. Hi Nancy,
      Thanks for taking the time out to read the blog! Photography is what has inspired me start blogging as well.
      Do plan to visit India after your Galapagos adventure. Its beautiful out here !

      Happy Travels!

  2. Hi again! There’s something about being on the water – and this looks magnificent! Lots of houseboats available to rent downunder here in OZ, but without the charm and character of yours. Somehow, I don’t think a day will be long enough!!

    1. Hi there,

      You guessed it right! The place is such that you could easily spend a week out here. Lovely people, food and weather ! You could hire kayaks to go around as well !!

      Ciao.

      1. Hiya, could you tell me from where we could hire Kayaks to go around the lakes and–if you know–how much they would cost? Thanks!

        1. Hi Erin – there is a water sports activity center on the lake – they rent out kayaks. I am not sure of the cost, but I reckon it wouldn’t be expensive. When are you headed there?

          Cheers!

    1. hey,
      Thanks for taking the time out to read the post ! And I am really glad you liked the pictures !!
      Have put up the portfolio as well today:). Need to refine the layout though.

      Ciao !

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