Srinagar, KashmirThe Dal Lake is the main attraction of Srinagar
Attractions: Islands, Houseboats & Floating Gardens
Best Time To Visit: June To August
Dal - A Lake Made Of Lakes
Dal Lake is, initially, one of the most confusing parts of
Srinagar for it's not really
one lake at all, but three. Further more much of it is hardly
what one would expect a lake to be like - it's a maze of
intricate waterways and channels, floating islands of
vegetation, houseboats that look so firmly moored they could
almost be islands and hotels on islands which look like they
could simply float away.
The largest group of houseboats lies along the western edge of
the lake near the lakeside boulevard, towards Dal gate. They are
lined in looping rows and around small islands. Several hotels
can also be found on flat islands in the lake. Beyond the
houseboats to the northwest are the floating gardens.
Attractions Around Dal Lake
There are three islands in the lake; three real islands anyway,
there are other sorts of islands joined by causeways. Around the
lake are many of Srinagar's most interesting sights, in
particular the pleasant Mughal gardens. It's also flanked by
hills, particularly along its east bank. The Shankaracharya hill
provides a very fine view over the lake.
Have A Swim!
The waters of Dal Lake are amazingly clear. Nevertheless one is
advised not to go swimming in the lake although the swimming
houseboats, equipped with diving boards and chutes, are moored
in a deeper part of the lake, 'upstream' from the concentration
of houseboats. Swimming here can be quite refreshing, especially
on a hot afternoon. One will undoubtedly be joined by a number
of Indians, including Hindu women who swim in their saris.
The lake is probably at its most beautiful when the lotus
flowers bloom in July and August. The floating gardens, known as
"Rad" in Kashmiri, are one of the stranger aspects of Dal Lake.
They're composed of matted vegetation and earth, which are cut
away from the lake bottom and towed to a convenient location
where they are moored. Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Melons all grow
amazingly well in these gardens, if one look underneath one can
see that they do literally float on the lake. One can also
approach the floating gardens by road; the boulevard runs along
the eastern edge of the lake, providing fine views all the way.
One will often see weeds being pulled up out of the lake - this
serves a double purpose. The lake waterways are kept clear and
the weeds are rotted until they form excellent compost for the
gardens. The shallowness of the lake and its heavy growth of
waterweeds is probably the main reason there are so very few
powered boats on the water. Dal Lake would be nowhere near as
pleasant if there were powerboats rushing back and forth across
its tranquil surface.
There are many tours around the lake but by far the best way to
see it is to take a Shikara for a day and do a circuit of the
Mughal gardens. At a reasonable price, there's hardly any other
lazier and more pleasurable way of getting into the swing of