Monday, July 22, 2024

Tourism      Lakes and Gardens      Jammu and Kashmir     Srinagar    

Dal Lake

Place : Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir
Significance : One of the most beautiful scenery in the world
Best Season : March to August
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The world-renowned Dal Lake is one of the major tourist attractions in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu & Kashmir State. One of the most beautiful and picturesque lakes in India, it gives the visitor a 360 view of the mighty himalayas.

Srinagar was the summer resort of the Mughal rulers of India and they made this lake beautiful with Mughul-type gardens and pavilions near the banks.

The second largest lake in the state, it is known as various nick names like 'Jewel in the crown of Kashmir' and 'Srinagar's Jewel' etc. During the winter season (the temperature reaches -4 C to - 5C) the lake sometimes freezes. The lake is used for fish culturing and water plant harvesting.

Situated in the heart of the city, it has more than 1000 timber houseboats that are popular with tourists, who also take trips in Shikaras. It also known for its approximately 500 Victorian era wooden houseboats.(built as vacation homes for landless British administrators during the Raj)

The lake, which once covered 12 square miles, has shrunk to half the size over the past four decades because of silt, weeds and development. Now this lake is 6.4km long and 4km wide and is divided by causeways into four basins, called Gagribal, Lokut Dal, Bod Dal and Nagin.

The western portion of the lake has an inlet. It is the deepest part of the lake. The shore line of the lake (about 15.5 kms) is lined with Mughal era gardens, parks, houseboats and hotels.

Houseboats are available, at the eastern part of the lake. Most of the boats offering all modern amenities. Kashmiri's used to call house-boats the "boat of Kennath Sahib". Gifted with an innate sense of beauty and design, the Kashmiri has since specialized in decorating the interior of the house-boat most artistically and making it most comfortable. A Shikara (a canopied small gondola, rowed with heart-shaped paddles) is attached to every house-boat like a water taxi. Vendors in Shikaras glide up to the doorsteps of the house-boat; a floating market of fruits, flowers, shawls, carpets, jewellery and handicrafts. (Cost about 300 for an hour, or 500 for a complete 4-5 hours round trip of the lake)

While on a boat ride in the lake, one can see interesting flora and fauna. The flora include lotus flower, water lillies and water chestnuts. Notable birds are kingfishers and heron. Apart from the houseboats, one can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, water surfing and licensed angling on the lake.

The famous Nishat Bagh (Garden of Gladness) lies here. This garden was laid out by Asaf Khan, Nur Jahan's brother, in 1632. From here one can enjoy a splendid view of the Dal Lake and the mountains beyond.

Shalimar Bagh is set at the end of a canal leading to the Dal Lake. It was built by Jahangri for his wife Nur Jahan. The garden is distinguished by a series of terraces linked by a water channel. These are surrounded by decorative pools which can be reached by using stepping stones. There are three pavilions. The upper most pavilion has black marble pillars. The wall has the niches for flowers and lamps. The two lower pavilions has two Halls for private (Diwan-i-Khas) and public audience (Diwan-i-Am). Entrance Fee: Rs 5/-.