Friday, November 4, 2011

"Seven Heaven" Ride - Dal Lake, Kashmir

(...Continuing with Destination Leh and "Ladakh, Landscapes"..)
With a couple of days left in 10 days long eventful journey, there was one small treat waiting for us before we ended the trip. It was Srinagar, where we had one morning to be spent before we could board the flight to Delhi. And obviously the famous Dal Lake was fitting well with the morning plan.

Dal Lake is the second largest lake in the northern most state of Jammu and Kashmir in India. The shore line of the lake is about 15.5 KM which is encompassed by a boulevard lined with numerous Mughal Gardens, Houseboats, beautiful parks and hotels. As with any lake I always believe the best time to visit is the morning and that too before the Sunrise. I was desperate an evening before visiting Dal Lake to get up early in the morning and to never miss this opportunity, because we just had one morning there. Like we planned, we got up early on a pleasant morning and headed towards this lake. As we were walking along the lake to find an entrance an elderly gentleman approached me and asked "Sir, aapko Shikara chahiye?" ("do you need a boat ride?") - Initially I ignored him and tried to walk off from there but then the gentleman followed me and showed me his ID provided by the J & K tourism dept and told me that he would charge me nominal price. We thought it was a good deal (400 RS) for 2+ hours and we agreed. We then followed Ali Bhai to his Shikara which he had gracefully named as "Seven Heaven"!

As we closed in, we sighted plenty of Kingfishers doing what they do the best, fishing. It was amazing to see them dive into the water and pluck the fishes out of the lake in a split second. The Sun was slowly rising up the horizon as the Shikara moved along the lake. The eyes witnessed majestic view of the lake against the backdrop of giant hills. The houseboats built with inspiring artworks, lined up along the lake kept our eyes wondering . Pied Kingfishers, in their typical way, hovering over the lake before making a vertical dive bill-first to capture the fish, kept the visitors amused. Flowers and vegetable sellers on the boats cruising along the lake appeared to be a decoration on the lake. In the middle of all this, school going kids taking their daily transport, Shikara, to go on to the other side of the lake brought smile on our faces. It was truly turning out to be a remarkable morning experience. Ali Bhai was extremely generous giving us plenty of time whenever we wanted to click some snaps and whenever we wanted to spend more time at some part of the lake. He also gave some historical details about the lake. He then went on to show us the places and the boats on which movies from 1970's to till date were shot. He took us to the floating gardens and something called as "Chalta firta Khet" on which they grow vegetables. The floating gardens blossomed with lotus were delightful to watch. Chai served from a shop in the midst of the lake tasted good. It was one long ride for more than 2 hours and as the Shikara was heading back to the starting point, eyes were still gazing at the silhouettes of the hill ranges against the sun with the reflections in the Dal Lake lighting up the faces. That truly justifies why this lake is nick-named as "Jewel in the crown of Kashmir" or "Srinagar's Jewel".

As opposed to what I thought the visit to Srinagar changed my opinions about the place. The people (from Lodge manager to the Chaiwalas) were extremely helpful. And no one tried to exploit the tourists by charging hefty prices in shops or on the streets. This place requires a few more visits for sure.

Following details can be useful:
Lodging/Stay/Accommodation: (Clean, luxurious lodge)
Hotel Victoria
Phone: 0194-2478233
Mobile: 09419077579

In case you have any complaint against anyone like taxi driver, restaurants etc, you call up the below number and they will immediately help you.

J & K Police for tourism: 01942477224

Photographs (18):

1. Ali bhai, the owner of "Seven Heaven" Shikara starting a ride

2. Houseboats at Dal Lake
3. Kids going to school look at the visitors with curiosity
4. I would prefer a wide angle for this but at that very moment, I had 55-250mm hooked into my Canon 450D
5. Another shot of children going to school; these kids appeared to be engrossed in some thought
6. How I wish she had turned her face towards the camera
7. Magical morning - Hills, Shikaras, fog and mist, Sunrise
8. Flower sellers cruise along the house boats

9. Floating gardens blossom with lotus, which bloom during July and August

10. The lake is habitat for a lot of ducks and water birds

11. Small blue kingfisher observes the movement in the lake before it hunts a fish
12. "Morning Prayers?" - Common Tern appeared to be resting on a pole.
13. Nehru Park situated along the Dal Lake

14. We bought a lotus from a lake side flower seller 

15. Though it appears dirty but note that they are the "Chalta firta khet" (Moving fields) where the vegetables are grown

16. Trail of Pigeons' flight

17. Kids waiting for their Shikara

18. Colorful Shikaras lined up on the shores; it turned out sunny after we had soothing Shikara ride at Dal Lake.


  1. PCK awesome read and i m a big fan of ur photography. Hats off

  2. Amazing photos. I feel happy that there are no motor boats to pollute the beautiful lake.

  3. killer pics has some b&w pics from her college trip reminded me of those...v.nice....must see put this on my list :)

  4. Awesome writeup and amazing pics as always.. :)

  5. Thanks all!!

    @Niki, you should scan those black and white pics and share with me at least.. I am eager to see.. :)

  6. Nice post KP. Enjoyed reading and also the pics are beautiful.

  7. hi i wolud like to appriciate your above post that was such a awosome one thanks
    Hotel Burj Srinagar

    Burj Hotel Srinagar

    Budget Accommodation Srinagar

  8. hi,Last week I have been visited to Bandipur Resorts and kgudi Resorts njoyed
    this summer with my kids a lot,planed to visit next summer holidays too.

  9. Awesome pics!!!
    Just visited this blog randomnly, but I felt great with your posts.
    Good one.