Experience houseboat and Shikara at Dal Lake, Kashmir

Kashmir is always being the best option to travel and one of the Persian poet said – “Gar firdaus, ruhe zamin ast, haimin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast”. It means – I always wondered how a place can be so beautiful that poets compare it to heaven.

Kashmir, paradise on earth is known for it’s captivating beauty. The magnificent landscape, charming lakes and royal Mughal gardens of Kashmir leaves an impregnable experience for the people. Furthermore, from the heights of snow-capped mountains to the breathtaking view of dazzling rivers, Kashmir is simply heaven.

In fact, Jahangir (Mughal Emperor) also quote a line in tribute to Kashmir – “If there is heaven of earth, it is here, it is here“.

Kashmir specialty – breath-taking Dal Lake Photo Credit

So to explore his wordings, I planned a short trip to Kashmir during third year of my college. But why I’m writing it now? What had came into my mind to write about Kashmir? Just go on reading….

Three days back, I was having a good discussion on “houseboats” with one of my friend, when he asked me; “How it feels to live on houseboat?”, “How it feels to spend a night on houseboat?”, In fact, the irony is that the boat is so large that it accumulate number of bedrooms, bathrooms and open space to dine…

As a result, with this discussion a pile of thoughts came into my mind and gushed about how lucky I was to experience these remarkable houseboats. The first one was in the backwaters of Kerala and then in the Dal lake of Kashmir.

Actually the first was Srinagar (Kashmir), then Kerala, but I’ve shared Kerala first. Above all, it is time to share memoir of Kashmir’s houseboat and Shikara…

Kashmir scenic houseboats
“Srinagar is well known for it’s Dal Lake and the serene beauty of Dal Lake is famous for houseboats and Shikaras”

Uhmm.. I remember the time – it was afternoon when my flight landed in Srinagar. The atmosphere was so chilling and crispy that without wasting any time I directly headed to the Dal Lake – one of the most beautiful part of Kashmir”. As I reached there, thousands of houseboats were waiting for me, and I have to choose only one. Every houseboat had a royal and novel feel; so it rather turned out to be a tough task to pick the best one.

History of Kashmir suggests…

When Britishers came to Kashmir valley, they were not allowed to buy land. Therefore, they brought up the concept of houseboat in Kashmir (as an alternate option). But, today these houseboats have become an integral part of Kashmir.

Finally I had chosen one (I don’t exactly remember the name of houseboat) and hired Shikara (the only possible transport facility) which took me to the houseboat.

What is so royal about Houseboat…

Staying in houseboat is real gem of Dal Lake that attracts tourists, providing the experience similar to that of any luxurious hotel. If you look at the size of houseboat, you’ll amused to see, how can a single houseboat accommodate lots of things.

There is balcony, lounge to relax and dine, pantry and 2-3 elegant bedrooms with attached sanitary; all these are made of Cedar wood (water resistant wood). In addition to that, walls, doors and windows of houseboat are furnished with well designed Kashmiri carvings. Also, the floor and windows are tagged along with carpets and curtains with exclusive Kashmiri touch.

Hand carved furniture in houseboat
Beautiful carpet and curtains all over the houseboat
Hand carving makes it more luxurious
That’s my furnished and luxurious room in houseboat

Finally, as I entered in houseboat, the houseboat manager welcomed me with Kashmir special tea “noon chai“.

Dal Lake
Tasty and lovely famous noon chai (tea) at my luxurious houseboat

Furthermore, every houseboat is categorized into grades of luxury; price of houseboats also varies with respect to the location.

Ultimately, living on houseboats or I would say living on lake was a remarkable experience. Also, the tranquil environment of Dal Lake and snow capped mountains by the side Lake leaves me with the peaceful mind. That’s why, it is perfect gateway from maddening pace of city life.

Photo source: The boat is well hand furnished and luxurious from inside

The Great Shikaras

Shikara – boat which is the most suitable transportation service, transporting people and goods across the Dal Lake. My experience with Shikara had started as I reached Dal Lake from airport. At Dal Lake there were lots of Shikaras waiting for customer to provide services. So I just hired one Shikara which took me and my luggage to my houseboat.

Photo credit: Shikara by the side of Dal Lake waiting for customers

Moreover, Shikara is famous for it’s lovely ride and it cost approximately Rs. 500/- for a Shikara. The ride includes the sailing on tranquil environment, watching few water sports activities, birds and visiting the whole floating market.

Hence, it was the time to take a leisure Shikara ride. I again sat on the Shikara and my rover started roving it into the rippling water.  Very soon my Shikara was followed by many other Shikaras which were selling several products like jewelry, Kashmir special handicraft, food products like corn, famous Noon tea and coffee etc..

Photo source: The man in Shikara is selling fruits

I bought some fruits to eat during this journey. Afterthat, my boat rover took me to a market, known as floating market. Floating market has everything in it such as from grocery stores, clothing and leather products to fine carved luxurious furniture and handicrafts.

Photo source: The most famous floating market at Dal Lake

Tip – Bargin hard and Bargin is must if you want to buy something.

With curiosity I bought many things from this floating market; I purchased Kashmiri saffron (kesar), handcraft product for my sister and helped my father in booking hand carved furniture set.

Coming back to the Lake, I would like to say, it is much more charming and soothing then what it looks like. Therefore, 2 hours Shikara ride is the main highlight of tour and if you misses it then your trip is incomplete.

Soothing Dal Lake with overwhelming view
Charming Dal Lake, atmosphere with mesmerizing mountians

With this, my day ended, but Dal lake had never stopped to show me more of a complete different angle at night, as you can seen in photograph..

Photo credit: Dal Lake, Srinagar at night is the best…
Isn’t it captivating?

Another thing is that Shikara and Dal Lake became more famous with Hindi super hit 1964 movie “Kashmir Ki Kalli“. The song “Taarif karu kya uski jisne tumhe banaya” sung my great Mohemmad Rafi. So actually, Shikara is the perfect place to romance. You’ll find many couples enjoying the romantic ride of Shikara.

So if you ever visit Kashmir, you must stay on houseboat and experience the best of Kashmir “The Shikara ride”. I’m sure you’ll love that.

If you like it, please comment below and you can share also..

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36 comments

  1. jajwalyark

    Kashmir is indeed insanely beautiful. I love hoe pristine the backdrop is in every picture. The houseboats Shikaras are the points of gorgeousness and beautifully colours in the midst of such a scenery!

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Very true Jajwal! Kashmir is one of the most charismatic destinations of India. I don’t understand why mischievious activities go on there again and again.

      Reply

      1. jajwalyark

        Yes it is rather unfortunate. It is perhaps because it is the Crowning Jewel that makes it so heart wrenching to see it falling apart.

        Reply

        1. prateekgoel

          haha! So positive thought about Kashmr. I like it.

          Reply

  2. Aditi

    Kashmir is so gorgeous, it’S a shame that I haven’t been able to visit it yet. I do hope to visit it super soon, maybe on my next trip to India. Thanks for sharing this post, I’d love to stay at a houseboat. 🙂

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Living in a houseboat and experiencing the float makes it more catching. Best wishes for your trip to Kashmir!! Thanks for your comment Aditi.

      Reply

  3. Fatima

    My God! Kashmir is extremely gorgeous! I have never been there but I definitely want to go there and I’ve heard the people there are so friendly and inviting!

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      haan you can say that!! People are quite friendly!! But seriously Kashmir is worth-watching.

      Reply

  4. toastycritic

    It looks so beautiful out there. The house boat does look amazing. I have always liked the idea of them. My great aunt used to own one and it was a lot of fun.

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Thanks toastycritic!! Wow…your aunty have one..ohh my!! I loved to hear that!!!

      Reply

  5. Dana Vento

    What a fun and amazing experienced! I’ve never been in that place and it’s really looks quite peaceful and relaxing at the same time.

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Yes a lot peaceful..but now-a-days it is quite hard there!! Terrorist activities are happening there!! By the way, Dal lake side is more relaxing and peaceful!!

      Reply

  6. helerinablogs

    Kashmir looks such a stunning place to visit. I love how bright and colourful everything is. The houseboats sound amazing too.

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Every bit of Kashmir is stunning!! Houseboats are just like icing on the cake….
      Thanks Helerinablogs!!

      Reply

  7. No Bland Makeup

    The lake looks amazing!! I love the colors of the house boat. It makes it so much more inviting.

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Every bit of houseboat is handmade!! Seriously, Dal lake is magical!! Thanks for your comment!!

      Reply

  8. Ivan Jose

    Stunning photographs. Great story, I would like to visit these places but, then again, just reading your detailed post is like walking through these places myself.

    Ivan
    http://www.ivankhristravels.com

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Haha!! Thanks Ivan Jose!! Such Indian places are waiting for your arrival!! You’ll love them. Thanks for liking my photographs…

      Reply

      1. Ivan Jose

        Someday, I’ll be in those beautiful places.

        Reply

        1. prateekgoel

          You will definitely!! Haha

          Reply

  9. Dunja

    Those boats-shops are amazing, i need to see them before i die! And i absolutely love the quote from a Persian poet 🙂

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Haha.. I wish you best of luck and visit Kashmir first when you come to India!!

      Reply

  10. Tamsin

    It’s so weird that I read this! Just 30 minutes ago I was shopping and the cashier knew I was travelling to Asia soon and was convincing me to visit his home in Kashmir! Such a coincidence – your pictures make it difficult to resist, I would love to visit some day!

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Haha.. I think Kashmir is calling you!! I feel so good with your comment, thanks a lot Tamsin!!

      Reply

  11. Marina Rosie

    what a stunning house boat! I thoroughly enjoyed this post Prateek, keep them coming! x
    Lots of love,
    Marina Rosie x
    https://marinawriteslife.blogspot.fr/

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Yes. definitely, I’ll show you more of such posts!! Thanks a lot for your comment Marina!!

      Reply

  12. Ana De-Jesus

    Now that is definitely the best house boat I have ever seen. I like how richly decorated it is! I love how beautiful Kashmir is as well, I had no idea that it encompassed such incredible views x

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Thanks Ana De-Jesus!! Yes these houseboats are the main attraction of Dal Lake or Kashmir! I hope now you had understood the grandness of Kashmir!!

      Reply

  13. Raja Ram Choudhary

    Very nice bro….

    Reply

  14. Anuradha

    If I may suggest please stop using the phrases like ‘Switzerland of India’ – every place is unique and can not be compared to other.

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Ok! Got it! Thanks for the suggestion. Done, please check it.

      Reply

  15. Anurag Singh

    Great Clicks man!!! Too good..
    The view of the lake, The market, the interiors.. All of things looks just awesome…!!!!

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Thanks a lot Anurag! I’m glad to hear that.

      Reply

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