When I knew that we were going on a trip to Kashmir, Dal Lake was the first spot that came into my mind. Dal Lake was essentially on my mind since then. I wanted to experience living in a houseboat and witness the floating market of Dal Lake. It was one of the most unique experiences in India and I ended up exploring a lot of Dal Lake, which I had never heard before.
Dal Lake is a top tourist destination in Srinagar and is the second largest lake in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. Due to its beauty and attraction, Dal Lake is known as the “Jewel in the crown” of Kashmir. It is spread over 18-22 sqkm km and offers various tourist destinations, shops and markets. After the Sonmarg trip, we were back in Srinagar.
Srinagar stay was 4-5 days and was the last spot of our Kashmir Trip. I wanted to make it memorable without leaving any efforts to enjoy it to the fullest. When I got to know that out of 5 days stay, we had 2 days on houseboat in Dal Lake, my happiness knew no bounds. Then we were taken on a shikara to our houseboats where they had arranged our stay for next 2 days.
The shikara ride is memorable. The ship decorated with a bunch of Kashmiri clothes was looking a way beautiful than the surrounding scenery. Lake is encircled by the snow laden peaks reaching sky and green pine trees which increase the beauty of the lake. We reached our houseboat and there was a narrow bridge made of useless barrels that took us to our houseboat. The moment I entered the houseboat, I was mesmerized seeing its interior and ancient architecture. There was a big hall in center behind which was the big kitchen consisting of the 8 seats dining table. And behind the kitchen were the massive rooms with magnificent interior. I had a room at end of the houseboat which was a way more than beautiful. After getting freshened up, we had delicious breakfast which had bread-butter, omlette, fruits and boiled eggs. I literally gave a delicious treat to my stomach.
While coming I had a word with the Shikara Owner, he instructed me get ready for the shikara ride to the floating market. The excitement to experience this event was so high, that I actually was not able to concentrate on my breakfast. Traveling in a shikara was anyways an adventure. I kept myself engaged in talks about the floating market with shikara owner. He took me through Shikara where actually floating market is there. This was some side the lake, I’ve never ever seen in the pictures. We navigated through the narrow lanes, under the wooden bridges, some houses on the sides and their mirrored reflections in. There were few more shikharas on the lake riding towards the floating market. After 45 minutes ride, we made it to the floating market. The vendors had already occupied the centre stage. All the shikharas loaded with fresh vegetables, made the lake look colourful in the wee hours of the day.
There was a “Mr. Wonderful Flower Man”. He was wise enough to gift me a flower from his bunch. I asked my shikara rider to take me to the Nishat Garden. Probably this was the second best decision I had taken, after the visit to the floating market.
There is a wedding hall in the middle of Dal Lake with the mountains surrounding it. There are pieces of floating land on the waters of Dal Lake known as “Chori ki kheti” (Stolen farmland). He asked me to step on that floating piece of land, and guaranteed that I won’t sink in!
As sun started getting stronger, the water lilies on the Dal Lake got into full bloom. The lake looked remarkable marvellous with these floating gardens of water lilies. I asked my shikara wala bhayya to click a good picture of mine with the white lilies. He pulled out a water lily and made a necklace out of it. This was a very sweet gesture.
That was my Dal Lake travelogue. Wish I will have a destination wedding in that wedding hall at the center of Dal Lake. (LOL!)