Dal Lake, Jammu & Kashmir, India : A True Heaven

Location : Srinagar, Kashmir: The Dal Lake is the main attraction of Srinagar
Attractions: Islands, Houseboats & Floating Gardens
Best Time To Visit: June To August

Dal – A Lake Made Of Lakes
Dal Lake is, initially, one of the most confusing parts of Srinagar for it’s not really one lake at all, but three. Further more much of it is hardly what one would expect a lake to be like – it’s a maze of intricate waterways and channels, floating islands of vegetation, houseboats that look so firmly moored they could almost be islands and hotels on islands which look like they could simply float away.

The largest group of houseboats lies along the western edge of the lake near the lakeside boulevard, towards Dal gate. They are lined in looping rows and around small islands. Several hotels can also be found on flat islands in the lake. Beyond the houseboats to the northwest are the floating gardens.

Attractions Around Dal Lake
There are three islands in the lake; three real islands anyway, there are other sorts of islands joined by causeways. Around the lake are many of Srinagar’s most interesting sights, in particular the pleasant Mughal gardens. It’s also flanked by hills, particularly along its east bank. The Shankaracharya hill provides a very fine view over the lake.

Have A Swim!
The waters of Dal Lake are amazingly clear. Nevertheless one is advised not to go swimming in the lake although the swimming houseboats, equipped with diving boards and chutes, are moored in a deeper part of the lake, ‘upstream’ from the concentration of houseboats. Swimming here can be quite refreshing, especially on a hot afternoon. One will undoubtedly be joined by a number of Indians, including Hindu women who swim in their saris.

Floating Gardens
The lake is probably at its most beautiful when the lotus flowers bloom in July and August. The floating gardens, known as “Rad” in Kashmiri, are one of the stranger aspects of Dal Lake. They’re composed of matted vegetation and earth, which are cut away from the lake bottom and towed to a convenient location where they are moored. Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Melons all grow amazingly well in these gardens, if one look underneath one can see that they do literally float on the lake. One can also approach the floating gardens by road; the boulevard runs along the eastern edge of the lake, providing fine views all the way.

One will often see weeds being pulled up out of the lake – this serves a double purpose. The lake waterways are kept clear and the weeds are rotted until they form excellent compost for the gardens. The shallowness of the lake and its heavy growth of waterweeds is probably the main reason there are so very few powered boats on the water. Dal Lake would be nowhere near as pleasant if there were powerboats rushing back and forth across its tranquil surface.

There are many tours around the lake but by far the best way to see it is to take a Shikara for a day and do a circuit of the Mughal gardens. At a reasonable price, there’s hardly any other lazier and more pleasurable way of getting into the swing of Srinagar.

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How to Reach Dal Lake in Srinagar

Tourists can also hire a cab to Lal Chowk and then use a public transport like bus to reach Dal Lake. One can also take a Boulevard road as it takes only 20 minutes to reach Dal Lake from Lal Chowk. To reach Dal Lake from Srinagar International airport, tourists can book a cab or taxi available outside the airport. Tourists can also book a cab from their hotel or can ask the hotel to arrange a cab to reach Dal Lake

Dal Lake leaves tourists mesmerized by its beauty and unlimited charm. Located in the heart of the Srinagar city, the lake  is a must-see place in Kashmir. Tourists can easily reach Dal Lake from Srinagar as the distance between the Srinagar Airport and Dal Lake is 23.3 km. There are also a couple of Delhi to Srinagar trains to choose from, for those wondering how to reach Srinagar by train.

Shopping Facilities

A unique Shikara Ride on Dal Lake Kashmir is not complete without a shopping experience in that of the lively lake market. This market includes a number of shops located right in the middle of the lake. The shops sell all sorts of goods including Kashmir’s specialties such as wooden artifacts, handmade earrings, carpets, Kashmiri handicrafts, saffron, and even Kashmiri ponchos and shawls.

Added Attractions

There are three islands in the lake separated by the causeways that in itself is a major attraction. Houseboats with swimming facilities are allowed during summer and can be very refreshing. There are other interesting places to visit near Dal Lake, in particular, the pleasant Mughal gardens, ancient temple of Shankaracharya, the Island of Char Chinar, Nagin Lake, Chashme Shahi, Hazratbal Shrine, and Mazar-e-Shura Cemetery.

Dal Lake also serves as the best place for film shootings and photography enthusiast. The beautiful floating gardens of Dal Lake bring in people from all over the world to spend a relaxing time exploring the gentle waves of the water, the lush greenery around and the rocky terrains. Besides, the unique experiences associated with a Shikara ride also includes bird watching. The white-breasted kingfisher, pariah kites, little grebe, and other large striking birds with robust bills can easily be spotted on the branches of willow trees while enjoying boating in Kashmir.

Shikaras boats are the perfect medium to enjoy a delightful ride across the lake, and is a must go to if you are visiting Kashmir. The other thing, that draws tourists to the waters of Dal Lake are the houseboats or the stationary boats that serve as accommodation for anyone who would like to spend some quiet days staying on the lake. With a view of the Dal Lake in the background, they provide the most exquisite views of the lake and its surrounding mountains. Made from superior quality wood with intricate carvings and floral motifs, they range from a simple one-quarter affair to large lavish suites. The interiors are beautifully embellished with Kashmiri carpets, crystal chandeliers, and plush furniture, and they also offer tempting home – cooked meals, top-notch facilities such as hot tubs and Wi-Fi, and endearing customized services.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit the Dal Lake is during the months from May to November when the weather is pleasing and you can appreciate the heavenly sight of a cluster of pink and white Lotus flowers adorned by the water droplets amidst the lake. Summer is also ideal for boating and a pleasurable evening sojourn, making it a perfect place for some leisure. During winters, the water of the lake becomes extremely cold and is perfect for ice skating on the frozen Dal Lake, which in itself is a wonderful activity to pursue under Kashmir’s winter sun.

Spending a day on the calm waters of the Dal Lake is one of the most relaxing things many visitors can do in Srinagar! It’s hard to say no to a day on a Shikara to explore the nooks and corners of the scenic Dal Lake against the backdrop of the snow-covered mountains. We hope you enjoy a Shikara Ride on Dal Lake Kashmir and have an amazing experience that creates fantastic memories.

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