Dal Lake – The Jewel in the crown of Kashmir
The Dal lake is often called the “jewel in the crown of Kashmir”, centrally located in Srinagar. The Lake is central not only to Kashmir Tourism but also to the life of a vast people, who derive their livelihood in various forms from the Lake. The Lake covers an area of about 10 square miles with a length of 4 miles and a breadth of 2.5 miles. The beauty of the lake lies in its vibrant surroundings, as it sustains a life on waters unique to it. Poor people, houseboat and Shikara communities survive on the Dal, as they have been doing for ages. Dal Lake sustains in its vicinity and periphery a vibrant life, particular to this place. Poor people, Shikara and Houseboat community have made it their world, so much that they seldom step out of the lake. The infrastructure is complete. Small wooden shops have been set on the Lake to cater to the needs of the communities.
Do you know that Dal Lake is the second largest lake in Kashmir?
Yes! The Dal Lake is the second largest lake in Kashmir. It is also viewed as the chief ornament of the state. One can experience the essence of Dal Lake, by taking a ride around the lake boarding a Shikara. The Shikara ride will give a glimpse of the places in the vicinity of the lake. While enjoying a calm and relaxing ride, the journey on the Shikara will reward you with the beautiful view of the crystal clear water along with the charm which originates from the fascinating life that exists on its water. The sight of the Zabarwan hills appears magnificent from the Shikara. The tourists can also enjoy the view of the beautiful islands, vegetable markets, floating gardens, floating markets. There are many more fascinating sights on this voyage on the Shikara to explore the Dal Lake. The charismatic view of the lake will leave you awestruck.
How to reach the Dal Lake
The distance from the Srinagar International Airport to Dal Lake is 15km. One can hire a cab from the airport to reach the banks of the Lake. Another way to reach the Dal Lake is via Lal Chowk from where you can easily avail a public transport towards Dal Lake.
Best time for Shikara ride at Dal Lake
During the summer season, the time before the dusk is the best time to enjoy a Shikara ride. At this hour one can easily relish the beauty of the Dal Lake and the other attractions in the vicinity. One can also witness the lifestyle of the people dwelling near the lake.
Cost of the Shikara ride at the Dal Lake
The average cost of the Shikara ride at the Dal Lake is Rs.500 for one hour. In case of a change in rates, one can also notice the rates which are displayed in the periphery of the lakes.
Timings of the Shikara Ride
The Shikara ride at the Dal Lake starts at early hours of 5 am and completes its voyage for the day before dusk by 6 pm.
11 Best Tourist Attractions to see around Dal Lake
The beauty of Dal Lake is inevitable, but the lake also has a long list of places in its vicinity. These attractions make the visit to Dal Lake more fascinating. Here are the major tourist attractions in and around Dal Lake which are a must visit for every tourist.
1. LOTUS GARDEN
The Lotus flower blooms between the months of July to August in clusters at various places in Dal Lake. When lotuses are in full bloom, Dal Lake looks the best. In the Lotus Garden, Lotuses grow in clusters. It is a delight to watch them. Fish are abundant near these areas and you can try fishing here.
2. GOLDEN GATE
The Golden Gate is located in the centre of the Dal Lake, on way to Char Chinar from Nishat Garden. It is actually a passage named Golden Gate, due to its golden shade.
3. GOLDEN LAKE POINT
Golden Lake is another delightful point in the Dal Lake. This point is ideally visited at sunset. The point is perfectly surrounded by two lines of houseboats on either side. When the last rays of the sun mingled with artificial lights fall here, the water adopts a golden shade and it closely resembles a sheet of gold.
4. NEHRU PARK
Crowded with Shikara’s at its ghat, Nehru Park is the busiest location in the vicinity of the Dal Lake. Laid in the mid-20th century, Nehru Park is not a Mughal Garden. The park is located 6km away from Lal Chowk on the Boulevard Road which rests at the foot of the Zabarwan mountain range. One can enjoy a clear picturesque view of Hari Parbat, Pari Mahal, and Shankaracharya Temple. The visitors also enjoy the beautiful view of the Dal Lake from the park which also makes it the most frequented gardens in Srinagar.
5. MEENA BAZAR
Meena Bazar is a floating market in Dal Lake, located near Nehru Park. It is another major attraction in Dal Lake. Everything is available here. Kashmiri shawls, paper machie artefacts, wood carving items, Kashmiri dry fruits and everything else can be bought from here. You may visit looms where shawls and carpets are made.
6. FLOATING GARDEN
Floating gardens are a fascinating thing in the vicinity of Dal Lake. The gardens attract a huge number of visitors as it literally floats at the surface of the lake. One can enjoy the amusing view of tomatoes, cucumber and melons growing in these floating gardens.
7. SONA LANK
Literally meaning ‘The Golden Island’ is an artificial island located centrally in the Dal Lake. This is the famous island Dal Lake where Sufi saints of Kashmir used to meditate. The island has a sacred reverence for Kashmiris and it is a place where people can sit peacefully. The island is set like an emerald in the sapphire sheet of Dal Lake.
8. CHAR CHINAR
Char Chinar is a beautiful island resting on the Dal Lake. It is often called as the Rupa Lank or Silver Island. The island accommodates four Chinar trees at every corner, thus it has been named as “Char Chinar”. This place is very famous among the tourists who visit the Dal Lake and one can only reach this island by riding a Shikara.
9. KABOOTAR KHANA
Located in the center of the Dal Lake, Kabutar Khana is a small island in the vicinity of the Char Chinar. In the early years, it was used to be the Summer Royal Palace of the Maharanis. Till this date, this place looks magnificent in the summer season as the lotus flowers blooms and covers the entire area.
10. OPEN LAKE BATHING BOATS
The bathing boats in Dal Lake provide equipment for water skiing and motor launching. These boats are placed in the open lake. The boats are beautiful and the reflections of the boats in the waters of the Dal are extremely pleasing.
11. MISSION KASHMIR SHOOTING SITE
Mission Kashmir is a famous Bollywood movie which was majorly shot in the parts of Kashmir. The Dal Lake was one of the spots during the shoot where a romantic song was shot from the movie. Now this spot is known as the “Mission Kashmir Shooting Site” and has been a major attraction for the Bollywood lovers.