Dal lake epitomises Srinagar and it is it's lifeline. The life in Srinagar revolves around Dal. Whenever we think of Kashmir and Srinagar the first thing that comes to mind are its lovely lakes and gardens.To say Dal is a beautiful lake is an understatement. It is spectacular and massive water body. You will not be able to see the opposite bank unless you are using a binocular. Next to Dal is Nagin. While Dal gets crowded by tourists during the season, Nagin is a quiet paradise.
After coming back from our early morning visit to floating market we were ready to make a visit to two lakes. Being the lean season and the fact it was raining in the previous week, we didn't see many tourists at the jetty. It was cloudy which meant that we would not get to savour the view of mighty Himalayas. That didn't deter us in hiring a Shikara for a ride. Muzaffar spoke to the boatman in Kashmiri and we fixed a price for one hour ride on the lake.
The boat ride on dal lake is a very relaxing experience. The Shikaras are essentially small row boats. They are colourfully painted and very comfortable for two persons. A ride in a Shikara is like a lullaby. Slow and soothing. When you lie down on the soft cushions, you get a feeling of floating on the water. No one is in a hurry here. Put your feet up and unwind!
The boat man - Ali - started slowly. We moved through lovely stretches of lilies and lotuses which we could touch and feel. The floating gardens on the lake known as "Rad" in Kashmiri blossom with lotus flowers during July and August. Drops of rain from light drizzle were floating on the leaves like pearls. As we rowed away from the shore, peaks behind Nishat bagh gardens became visible whenever clouds cleared. With Clouds playing hide and seek, we had to keep our eyes open to grab the view of any vistas.
Let us now take you through the vistas of the lake.....
A shikara moored in the lake
Houseboats moored on the other bank of the lake
We found this big houseboat moored in quiet corner of the lake.
|A broken fortified wall in the middle of the lake.|
|We saw this small boat moored in the lake. The blue colour of the boat was a nice contrast to the green all around.|
The enormity of the lake ......
|The lake is full of lovely lilies, lotuses|
|A panoramic view of the lake |
We were now far away from the banks. The enormity of the lake could be experienced now. Fortunately, ours was the only shikara in the lake as Ali rowed quietly. Ali started talking about how the booming tourism always gets derailed by some minor incidents in the city which gets blown up on mainland India. We could realise ourselves later during our stay. The ride in Dal lake is different because of the surroundings. The Lake gets water from surrounding hills which also acts as lovely backdrop. We were not fortunate to see the snow covered peaks which are visible in summers. Nevertheless, this is one ride you should enjoy relaxedly.
Ali started rowing us back. We found another boat coming closer to us. It was a floating store! The guy in the boat was selling Kashmiri jewellery. Brinda was interested to take a closer look at it. The silver jewellery looked interesting. Brinda liked few, bargained hard and bought them. Being lean season, we were able to get good price. The seller was also happy that he got some business in this season. Another twenty minutes of ride on the lake, we were back.
It was a de-stressing and nice ride. Muzaffar was ready and we drove to Nagin lake which is closeby. Nagin is smaller in size and in fact is a part of Dal. The two lakes are separated by a small causeway which help locals to move around for their day-to-day activities. The first impression you get when you reach Nagin is its quietude. Not many tourists come here and being lean season there was none in the morning except us.
It started drizzling and we opened our umbrellas even as we negotiated and got into a shikara. This was to be a short ride. But nevertheless it was pleasant. We could go closer to the houseboats moored on the banks. The activities by locals was more on this lake than Dal which is generally filled with tourists. You don't see many houseboats on Dal but on Nagin, you can see them berthed on the banks. Mohammed, our boat man was an elderly person and hospitable. He made sure we were taken around the lake and enjoyed the ride.
|Houseboats moored on the banks of the lake |
|Lilies and water drops on the leaves |
|A lone boatman on the lake|
It started pouring as we got down from the boat. We rushed to the car and Muzaffar brought us back to our home stay for a lovely lunch of Kashmiri Alu Dum!
a) Boat ride early in the morning is soothing and relaxed. For this, make sure you book Shikara on the previous day. During season, it is good to go for the ride in the morning when it is quiet.
b) A sunrise ride on the lake is a welcome experience if you can get up early. One can witness spectacular sunrise on the lakes.
c) While on the boat, you may be approached by hawkers on the boat selling various items.
d) You may talk to your boatman who is generally friendly. Ask him to sing a Kashmiri folk song and he will oblige.
e) During the peak season, the rates for shikara will increase. Make sure you bargain and get good rates.
f) There are small shikaras which accommodate two people and bigger ones which can accommodate 8-10 people. If you are a couple choose the smaller one.
g) Nobody wears life jacket on the boat. Please do not move around without asking the boatman lest the boat may topple over.
h) Carry a binocular with you. If you are going for an early morning ride, then you will be able to spot many birds - Kingfisher, Barn Swallows, Common starling, night herons......
For other posts on Kashmir in this blog, please click on the links below
Yusmarg - Hidden wonder of Kashmir!
Spectacular Srinagar 1 - Floating market on Dal lake!
Skywatch Friday - Srinagar from Taj!
Monday Images - Great lakes of Kashmir
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