Kashmir travelogue 3: Life on Dal Lake

Have you read Part 1 and Part 2 of the travelogue?

What sights do you see when you go on a shikara ride on the Dal Lake? Let me tell you, with the help of some pictures.

You see floating shops that sell everything from toothpaste and hair-oil to Lays chips and Coca Cola.

You see boats where you can register for adventure sports like water surfing. No, we didn’t go for any of them.

You see floating vendors selling fruit chaat, their boats full of different varieties of fruit, some of which you have never seen before.

You see floating vendors who prepare sheesh kababs.

You see the houseboat where part of Mission Kashmir was shot.

You see the freshest of vegetables being sold in a floating vegetable shop, and you get sad that you cannot buy any of them because you have no way of cooking them and they would rot before you could take them home with you.

You see Mr. Wonderful Flower-man selling pretty ‘Kashmiri’ flowers and seeds for the same. We bought a few varieties of seeds, after going through a catalogue of brilliant flowers. All seeds look pretty much the same, and we do not know what is going to surprise us after we plant them!

You can buy Maggi noodles, pakoras, bhajiyas, hot tea or coffee, chips or Kashmiri Kehwa at a floating fast-food restaurant.

You can ogle at the intricate carving of other houseboats.

You can see men casting their fishing nets far and wide, and smoking their hookah as they wait for some catch to gather.

You get thrilled to see the government’s initiative to educate the cutesy little kids of the villagers who live on the Dal Lake.

You see a ‘bathing boat’, and you wonder what it is used for.

You see floating shops that sell traditional Kashmiri dresses, shawls, imitation jewellery, bed linen, sarees and handicrafts, saffron and dry fruits. These shopkeepers are happy to even come to your houseboat in their shikara to show you their wares.

You see floating farms belonging to the villagers who live in the far interiors of the Dal Lake. You drool at the fresh mint and chillies and bottlegourds dangling from the lush plants on these farms, and are happy when your houseboat cook informs you that he cooks the same vegetables for you. These farms can be attached to boats, and can be taken anywhere on the Dal Lake.

You get excited to see the ‘Floating Post Office’. What a wonderful thing!

You see birds that you cannot identify, and understand the true meaning of ‘wind in the bulrushes’.

You see a crane (or stork?) deep in contemplation.

You see an eagle surveying his property.

You see (and hear) ducks having a full-blast conversation amidst the lovely lotus leaves.

You see sparrows happily twittering away, jumping among the water lily plants, which, the Kashmiris say, ‘Water lily, subah khili, shaam ko nahi mili‘.

You admire the sight of other shikaras floating on the calm Dal, and the pretty picture that they make against the hills.

And then, you return to your houseboat with a heavy heart, understanding that you might never be doing this wonderful, therapeutic thing of taking a joy ride on a shikara ever again.


36 thoughts on “Kashmir travelogue 3: Life on Dal Lake

  1. I luved luved luved shopping during the shikara ride too πŸ™‚ Ate sooo many cucumbers and some delicious kulfi πŸ˜‰ Ahhh reliving all those wonderful days there!


  2. Whoa… I am truly in awe looking at the way life is on Dal lake.. wish I could go there sometime.. loved the floating farm.. those flowers.. birds, school and post office.. So so glad for all the photos you shared… absolutely loved this post!


  3. Lovely Lovey! πŸ™‚ Loved all the pics πŸ™‚
    Dal lake is a floating world in itself πŸ™‚
    The Kashmiri kehva sounds to be such an interesting drink. Did you try it ?


  4. Ohhhhhhhh! Such beauty ! πŸ™‚ Loved loved Loved LOVED looking at the crane, the shikaras, the floating shop, the floating farms (wow!), the fresh veggies (I’d have so wanted to buy some), those dress materials (did you buy any? some are really nice) and the eagle and ah ! I loved the photos. They took me to Kashmir and they speak so abundantly of how much you truly enjoyed πŸ™‚
    I love little forms of happiness like this so much! So so glad you took so many snaps ! πŸ™‚
    So, there is someone who is always manoeuvring your house boat is it?


    1. @Kismi

      Thank you, Kismi. I am glad you enjoyed the post. πŸ™‚

      Yes, I did buy some dress materials and a saree and some shawls and other stuff, but not from here. Will post about that later, maybe.

      Yes, there is always the cook and the helper staying at the houseboat. You get the keys to your room. You can keep your luggage in it, lock the door, take the keys along and go out – like in a hotel.


  5. I LOVED THAT eagle one .. if you dont mind can I have the original print please , I just want to keep it I wont use it , If i do I will make sure I ask you first ..

    THe eagle is a rare I think in punjab now …

    beautiful snaps TGND.. I have been to kashmir but have not stayed in the house boart ..


    1. @Bikram

      Thank you, Bikram. I am glad you liked the snaps. πŸ™‚

      Will e-mail you about the eagle snap.

      BTW, is the eagle really becoming extinct in Punjab? We see so many of them in Bangalore, and we saw so many in Kashmir! Difficult to believe!!


  6. Superb!!! I didn’t realize that there was this entire ecosystem on the lake…somehow thought it was only a tourist thing.
    How lovely that u observed all these things. I’m very intrigued by the floating farm. However do they do that?


    1. @Aparna

      Oh, yes, there is a whole ecosystem on the Dal Lake, a floating ecosystem rather. It was all so much interesting. πŸ™‚

      The floating farms apparently have proper papers and all that, and are registered. Most villagers living in the interiors of the Dal Lake own a piece of property like this, where they grow fresh vegetables for their own, household use. The surplus is sold to shops and houseboat owners.


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