When in Srinagar, I got to experience the soothing Shikara Ride at Dal Lake. This hillside lake is home to the wonderfully carved wooden houseboats and colorful Shikaras (the small wooden carved boats) casually commuting through the scenic peaks of the Pir Panjal Mountains. It is spread across 22 square kilometers and its beauty kept growing as my Shikarawala rowed my Shikara deeper and deeper into its placid water flow!
Shikaras are extensively used to commute back and forth from the houseboats, for daily traveling, or for boating tours. They are very well maintained, beautifully decorated, and rowed by professionals who are well aware of the different aspects of Dal Lake, which makes the Shikara Rides even more exciting and interesting. Staying rooted in their old charm, the swift movement of a Shikara provided me with a unique way to experience the eternal beauty of Kashmir, and must say, they certainly add to the beauty of Dal Lake with their colorful presence!
The duration of the Shikara Ride at Dal Lake in Kashmir ranges from 1 hour to 4 hours, the Shikarawalas at one of the ghats surrounding the lake guided me regarding the same which helped me in choosing the ride as per my convenience. However, the pricing here is dynamic so the better your bargaining skills, the better chances of you bagging a worthy deal!
It was an experience of a lifetime for me as I got wooed by scenic vistas of the Zabarwan Range and the deepness of the calming Dal Lake. The vibrations in the water formed by the rowing of Shikarawala were an equally visual treat. The mesmerizing scene of surrounding snowy mountains looked even more beautiful at the sunset which reflected in the gleaming water of the lake.
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The Shikara ride is incomplete without stopping at Meena Bazaar, a lively lake market. This market has a number of shops selling all sorts of goods including Kashmir’s specialties such as wooden artifacts, handmade earrings, carpets, Kashmiri handicrafts, saffron, and even Kashmiri Pashmina shawls right in the middle of the lake. However, it is advisable to avoid shopping here as the rates are on the higher side and the authenticity of goods sold is doubtful.
Dal Lake is nothing short of heaven for film shootings and photography enthusiasts. May it be its floating gardens or the lush green spread around and the rocky terrains, it has various sights to offer for you to get those perfect shots! Besides this, I also got to see various birds while enjoying my ride which was indeed a cheerful sight.
A Shikara ride is the best way to enjoy a picturesque ride across the lake, especially because these wooden boats with pointed ends on both sides and with beautiful canopies overhead are a cultural symbol and can only be seen in Srinagar.
Must say, this ride helped me build memories of a lifetime, and was worth every penny. Spending a day in the calm waters of Dal Lake was one of the most relaxing aspects of my Kashmir Trip. It was hard to bid farewell to this delightful ride which made me fall in love with every nook and corner of the iconic Dal Lake against the backdrop of the snow-covered mountains but I’m definitely carrying a smile on my face, calmness of mind, the coolness of emotions and a heart filled with gratitude with me!
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