Afloat the mystic Dal Lake

Photo of Afloat the mystic Dal Lake 1/1 by Snehal Manjrekar

It was my last day in the beautiful Kashmir valley and I wanted to end the exploration on a restful note. The entire week the valley mesmerized and engrossed me with her pristine beauty and impenetrable tranquillity. The history behind the valley’s art, cuisine, gardens, temples, Darghas, and people was an immense learning experience. There was so much that I unlearned, learned, and relearned about the valley in a matter of a week that I wished to end the journey on a lighter note. Yes, I was in that zone, where in I didn’t wish to notice, spot, observe, appreciate, or savour anything. I just wished to simply stay afloat.

That morning I chose to ride over the Dal Lake in a Shikara. Built from the Deodar wood, a Shikara that has been in service since 1985 offered me a ride. As I floated over the Dal Lake in the Shikara my mind froze. It wasn’t analysing anything. It was busy gazing at the House boats, the merchants selling imitation jewellery, photographers, Saffron sellers, normal folks carrying vegetables and fruits in smaller boats, et al. There was a flurry of activities yet no frenzy. People seemed occupied but not busy. Faces of strangers greeted me with a disarming smile as if I was one among them.

I looked around and witnessed firsthand the struggle of the Sun rays to cut through the surrounding mountains and touch the Dal Lake. In no time that struggle was over. The Sun rays pierced through the Dal Lake, thus, making it resplendent. The glitter made it a bit hard for me to maintain an eye contact with the Dal. As I saw the reflection of the Sun in the steady and calm waters of the Dal my heart raced! It was the most beautiful reflection I had ever since before.

For over an hour I floated over the Dal thinking about nothing yet admiring her beauty. I didn’t listen to music neither struck a conversation with the Shikara rider. I chose to surrender myself to silence. I froze my thoughts. I locked myself in that mode of nothingness. I realized the importance of silence, the significance of quietness. To appreciate something one needn’t always be loud and vocal. Observations made under the guise of silence are more meaningful and thus less dramatic. Perhaps, that’s the best way to feel the beauty of the Dal Lake.

The Dal has witnessed a lot in her lifetime. The Dal managed to impress the Hindu rulers, the Mughal Sultans, and the Brits over the past several hundreds of years.  The lake saw the ugly unrest and the bloodshed of the 1990s and now is witnessing the relative peace and prosperity of the recent times. She stood witness to the just and the unjust events of the valley’s history.

For the Dal her survival is her greatest achievement. For the Dal her purity is her source of strength. No matter how good or bad the days were she derived strength through her purity and calmness. Believe me; she is ready to share her purity and calmness with you, provided you approach her as nobody, surrendering yourself to nothingness.