Srinagar is endowed with exceptional vistas and gallant nature views. One can behold almost all the shades of nature in Kashmir. And it is here at Dal Lake in Srinagar that you get to behold nature’s finest creation. With the majestic Himalayas making the backdrop and the blue waters of the lake reflecting every bit of the mountains, there’s nothing more peaceful than a Shikara ride into the vastness of the Dal Lake. 15km from the main town, Dal Lake is Srinagar’s jewel, a vast sheet of water reflecting the carved wooden balconies of the houseboats and the misty peaks of the Pir Panjal mountains.
Flotillas of gaily painted shikaras (gondola-like taxi boats) skiff around the lake, transporting goods to market, children to school and travelers to delightful houseboats inspired by originals from the Raj era. Enjoy the perfect glory of the evening sipping a cup of coffee while sunset and shikara ride making the perfect company to make your coffee even tastier. An entirely new world of Dal awaits you in the deep embrace of the Himalayas. The deep saffron beauty of nature around and Kashmiri shawls are definitely a huge attraction but Dal Lake is a wonderful emblem of love brimming with awesomeness.
No Srinagar tour is complete with A boat ride in Dal Lake. I need not say much about the place as this is the main highlight of Srinagar tour, beautiful lake with numerous houseboats, the village inside the lake along with floating markets. In case if you want to experience houseboat then please book 1/2 nights on the same, else one can take Shikara ride and get a feel of the lake. Shikara rides in the season can go up to INR 1200 for one boat, which can easily accommodate 4 people. During the off-season, the price stays around INR 500. The operators would test your negotiation skills for sure. Lake is quite big and the sight rightly supports the fact why Dal Lake is called the charm of Srinagar.
With an average depth of almost 5 feet and a maximum depth of 20 feet, Dal Lake spreads across 21 sq km and one can easily spot floating gardens in the lake. The floating gardens are known as ‘Rad’ in the Kashmiri language. The floating gardens are known for the lotus flowers that blossom during the months of July and August. The Dal Lake is divided into four basins, Bod Dal, Nagin (also a separate lake), Gagribal and Lokut Dal.
There is an island in the middle of Bod Dal known as Sona Lank. Lokut Dal is also known as Rup Lank and Char Chinari. Dal Lake is lined by gardens built in the Mughal era and many parks. Mughals, who were smitten by the beauty of Kashmir, laid extensive gardens to heighten its beauty. The best views of the lake can be seen from the Shalimar Garden and Nishat Garden that were built during the reign of Mughal Emperor, Jahangir.
Bollywood filmmakers have shown their strong penchant for the lake time and again and over 20 films have been shot in and around the famous water body. Mainstream Hindi films like, Junglee, Jab Jab Phool Khile, Kashmir Ki Kali, Jaanwar, Lamhaa, Yahaan, Mission Kashmir, Dil Se, Kabhi Kabhi, Rockstar and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani were shot or have scenes in which Dal Lake forms the backdrop.
The sight of actor Shammi Kapoor gamboling on a shikara in Kashmir Ki Kali or Shashi Kapoor lamenting failed love in Jab Jab Phool Khile has helped popularize and romanticize the Dal Lake in the popular imagination. Shikaras are a cultural symbol of the lake and seen mostly in lakes of Srinagar. It is often called the Gondola of Kashmir and has achieved iconic status. While the boats are a part of daily life on the lake and used for a slew of purposes including transporting people and goods, it has become very popular with tourists. A ride on the lake is a must for tourists visiting Kashmir.
Quite different from the houseboats in Kerala, the Dal Lake houseboats are stationary and are built on a formidable platform. These houseboats are made of wood and exhibit fine carvings depicting the ancient architecture. The carved wood paneling makes the houseboats of different sizes. There are a few of them as big as the size of three bedrooms, living room, and kitchen. Staying on a houseboat provides a unique experience. Houseboats vary in degree of luxury and have been accordingly graded by the Department of Tourism. Often the owner and his family offer personalized service.
You can look for stay options from a multitude of them but houseboats are undoubtedly one of the best among them. There are enough accommodation options in Srinagar ranging from budget hotels, mid-range hotels to luxury hotels. Houseboats on Dal Lake are a popular accommodation option. Along with breathtaking views of the Dal Lake and the mountains, they also offer a unique experience. Most of the houseboats are run by families living on the Dal Lake. Houseboats are also available in the budget, mid-range, and luxury.