Dal Lake Houseboat in Kashmir is a special attraction for tourists of all ages. Travelers can also enjoy shopping in a different way while staying at Dal Lake Houseboat. The Dal Lake, which is the second largest in the state, is integral to tourism and recreation in Kashmir. The Lake is also an important source for commercial operations in fishing and water plant harvesting. Scenic views of the lake can be saw from the shoreline Mughal gardens, such as Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh and from houseboats cruising along the lake in the colorful shikaras.
At present, the Dal and its Mughal gardens, Shalimar Bagh and the Nishat Bagh on its periphery are undergoing intensive restoration measures. Massive investments made by the Government of India to restore the lake to its original grandeur.
Dal mentioned as Mahasarit in ancient Sanskrit texts. Ancient history records mention that a village named Isabar to the east of Dal was the residence of goddess Durga. During the Mughal period, the Mughal rulers of India designated Kashmir, Srinagar in particular, as their summer resort. They developed the area of the Dal in Srinagar with rambling Mughal-type gardens and pavilions as pleasure resorts to enjoy the healthy cool climate.
Later the Dogra Maharaja of Kashmir restricted the building of houses in the valley; the British circumvented this rule by commissioning prolific houseboats built on the Dal. After the independence of India, the Kashmiri Hanji people have built, owned and maintained these houseboats, cultivating floating gardens and producing commodities for the market, making them the center of their livelihoods. The houseboats, closely associated with Dal also give accommodation in Srinagar.
The beauty of Dal Lake has attracted filmmakers and over 20 films 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 shikhara in Kashmir Ki Kali or Shashi Kapoor melancholic about 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.
Dal Lake Houseboat- Best place to stay
Many tourists attracted to Srinagar by the charm of staying on a Dal Lake Houseboat, which provides the unique experience of living on the water in a cedar-paneled stylish bedroom, with all the conveniences of a luxury hotel. Srinagar’s thousand or so houseboats moored along sections of the Dal and Nagin Lakes and river Jhelum, each decorated fancifully and named passionately and even whimsically. Like hotels, houseboats vary in the degree of luxury and have been so graded by the Department of Tourism. A luxury houseboat, like a luxury hotel, has fine furniture, good carpets, and modern bathroom fittings, while the ‘D category’ (the lowest category) of houseboats, like low-budget hotels, is simply furnished.
Like hotels too, houseboats vary widely in their locations. Some overlook the main road, others look out onto lotus gardens and yet others face tiny local markets and villages, all right in the middle of the lake! All houseboats, regardless of category, have highly personalized service. Not only is there always a “houseboy” for every boat, but the owner and his family are never far away. The cost per day of hiring a houseboat includes all meals and free rides from the houseboat to the nearest jetty and back, as no houseboat on the lakes is directly accessible from the banks.
Every standard houseboat provides a balcony in the front, a lounge, dining room, pantry and 3 or more bedrooms with attached bathrooms. All houseboats not moored to the bank of the river or lakes give a shikara as a free service from the houseboat to the nearest ghat (jetty). Virtually every houseboat in Srinagar has been provided with a municipal water connection.
Category and location of houseboats
The State Tourism Department has classified the houseboats into five categories – Deluxe, A, B, C, and D, corresponding about to the degree of comfort and service of hotels.
There are 1087 registered houseboats in Srinagar of which 702 anchored in the Dal Lake, 173 in the Nagin Lake, 142 on the River Jhelum, 5 on the Dal Lake near Naseem Bagh, and the rest in other water bodies. Among these, 349 houseboats with a combined capacity of 1007 double rooms are in the deluxe class and are mainly anchored in Dal Lake, Nageen Lake, and Naseem Bagh. In addition, there are 129 A-class houseboats, 124 B-class houseboats, 134 C-class houseboats, and 351 D-class houseboats. (collected from tourism dept J&K )
To know more about Dal Lake Shikara Ride, click the below-mentioned link-
To know more about Srinagar Sightseeing, click the below-mentioned link-
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My stay at Dal Lake Houseboat review. Click below-