Small boat on Dal lake or popularly known as Dal Lake Shikara ride is one of the most enjoying experience for tourists visiting Srinagar. You can get Shikara from various locations around Dal Lake and enjoy Dal Lake Shikara ride. By the side of the lake, the rate chart is displayed. A dreamland for everyone who has lusted for some relaxing moments amidst the breathtaking scenery of nature, Kashmir indisputably comes out on top. And Srinagar is the perfect place of your trip.
Shikara, the small wooden carved boat, usually seen at Dal Lake and Nagin Lake of Srinagar, is one of the compelling attractions of the city. Regaining the old world charm, the swift movement of a Dal Lake Shikara ride provides a unique way to experience the eternal beauty of Kashmir.
Considered as a cultural symbol of the region along with houseboats, Dal Lake Shikara ride in Kashmir is one of the most charming aspects. A relaxing ride while enjoying the surrounding views around Dal Lake is truly a watchful pleasure. Dal Lake Shikara ride also used for sightseeing attractions that located close to Dal Lake like Nishat Garden, Shalimar Garden, and the Hazratbal Mosque.
Shikara in Kashmir is also used for other purposes apart from leisure. Locals mainly use this low rowing boat for transportation, seaweed harvesting, and fishing. But the most unusual of the lot is its use as a floating market. Shikara used for selling varieties of flowers and handicrafts that are quite popular among tourists residing in houseboats. The glimpse of floating boats full of colorful blooms is definitely an eye-catcher. Along with these, the fun associated with Shikara also includes bird watching.
You can get Shikara from various locations around Dal Lake. By the side of the lake, the rate chart displayed. Usually, it will be a two-hour ride which is enough and it will cost you Rs 1000 (Rs 500 per hour). Do not board a Shikara at the very entrance of the Dal Lake, this is a channel type so it will take more time to reach open water. The construction cost of one Shikara is almost one lakh and life of one Shikara is nearly 20 years.
Dal Lake is a market itself, during your cruise on Shikara the boatman will offer you various other services offered by different vendors. You can take a photo with traditional Kashmiri dress. For this, different boatman with all accessories is available, between the lake they can take your photo. Those photos delivered at your hotel or houseboat. Charges are the bit higher side where they will be insisting you take least 3 photos each costing Rs 200/-. For a full day Dal Lake Shikara ride (8 am to 2 pm ) the boatman will charge Rs. 2500 approx.
The ride began at around 8.30 am. The rower told us that he would be covering spots like floating post office, kabutar khana, chaar chinar etc. Meanwhile we enjoyed some cookies. We then saw the Floating post office. It is India’s only floating post office cum museum (which was closed that particular day).
We then proceeded towards the Kabutar Khana. On the way wefound a Mobile Cafe. This cafe offered tea, coffee, juice etc. We hardly found out any Shikaras on this stall (except 1 or 2). We then moved on and enjoyed the beautiful scenery.
The boatman told us that we are close to Kabutar Khana. It is a small island with a grand structure dating back to Maharaja’s period. This building used as Maharani’s Summer Palace. During summer, many beautiful floating lotus plants and flowers surround the water of this area. Kabutar Khana is quite close to Chaar Chinar and is almost in the Center of Dal Lake. I was busy taking pictures and my family was constantly gazing out the sights.
Now, this ancient palace used as a home for Pigeons (Kabutars). We also saw Taj Hotel on the opposite side, which built on a cliff. The most awaited sight was still to come.”Chaar Chinar” is an island in Dal Lake, Srinagar, India. It called as Char-Chinar (Four Chinars) because of the presence of four beautiful Chinar trees in this region. Chinar trees characteristically grow in Eastern Himalayas. They have been an important part of Kashmiri tradition, in that, a Chinar tree found in almost every village in Kashmir. These trees have survived for ages because Chinar is basically a long-living tree. It spreads wide across a region of cool climate with sufficient water. We clicked some family pictures and those of the trees. The island was completely deserted and I couldn’t see a person/Shikara on the lake. “Where did everyone disappear?” was what I spoke to myself.
The boatman told us that he would be dropping us to the restaurant for lunch via a route, which goes through the market. After around 20 mins. We entered the market and my wife requested the boatman to park the Shikara on some wooden handicraft shop. We purchased many showpieces to keep some with us some as gifts for our relatives. Maximum big items and furniture can be folded. The shop owner was a very skillful person. Within a few minutes, he became close to my son gifting a small memento free of cost. After a good bargain, we purchased few things. He gave small mementos for us also and packed all staffs so beautifully that they remain intact after reaching our residence.
Anyways, we then proceeded towards the restaurant for lunch. We gave Rs. 200 as the tip to our boatman for this decent 7 hours tour
Few tips before Dal Lake Shikara ride
1) For those who seek offbeat experiences, you can go for the vegetable market tour in Shikara in the morning. It’s way too early though, around 5 A.M. However, do tie up well with the Shikara and take the mobile number of Boatman, a day before.
2) If you are planning to stay at the houseboat, you will be picked and dropped to the houseboat in Shikara. The pick and drop service by Shikara is complementary by some houseboat. Check your houseboat before paying the Shikara guy.
3) You can enjoy the Dal Lake fully on a good houseboat and even plan your meals in the open terrace of houseboats overlooking the lake. There is no need for a separate Dal Lake Shikara ride for a photo shoot if you are staying at the houseboat.
4) Don’t give advance to any Shikara/houseboat owner. You may lose your money and be cheated.
5) If you plan to go in a Dal Lake Shikara ride then talk to the shikara boat owner directly. Do such a bargain that you will feel shy about yourself.
6) There are good hotels on the road besides dal lake gate-2 where you get good food. Pack the food and take it yourself or order on phone to get it. Perfect!
7) If you purchase kesar / saffron from Dal Lake beware of the quality and price. I got it for Rs.80/- per gram. Average quality.
8) The Dal Lake Shikara ride should totally discussed in detail with the shikara owner.
9) You have to be a bargain master if you plan for shikara ride. Don’t be shy and speak your heart out fully.
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