Tranquil Travel Tales from a Srinagar Houseboat
A romantic houseboat drifting lazily on the scenic Dal Lake sunk in a crater, flanked by snow-capped mountains is why I’d go back to Srinagar anytime.
But this isn’t all that the Himalayan city offers. Historic gardens, unique Kashmiri wooden mosques and a mild summer climate – pool together to make Srinagar one of India’s top domestic tourist destinations.
Srinagar for the Backpacker
It is easy to break down Srinagar into three sections. All the sections start from a central point known as Dalgate, where the Dal Lake passes through a lock gate.
While heavily advertised, the houseboat experience of Srinagar is not overrated. It is something else, to fall asleep on the mild, lapping waters of it’s mountain lake, Dal. Set in a scenic setting, framed with mountains, Dal lake seems so magical just about sunset, it is easy to let go and get into its trip. Even if it is something a little above backpacking budget, I do recommend at least one night on a houseboat.
Best time to Visit
Summer is the best time to visit Kashmir. Weather conditions are ideal from March to October.
The three sides of Srinagar
Old City: Northwest to Dalgate; delightfully chaotic, and colourful.
Shopping: The hectic commercial centre is located South-West of Srinagar, near Lal Chowk.
Dal Lake: Beautiful, placid, magical, an ideal destination for honeymooners who want to sway in the slow romance aboard one of the Shikaras (traditional canoe) or houseboats. Parallel to the lake lined with vividly coloured houseboats, lies the hotel-lined Boulevard. A bright array of houseboats here form a particularly colourful scene. The famous Mughal gardens are strung out over several kilometres around the lake.
Note: Although relatively calm now, inter-communal tensions still rock Srinagar with curfews occasionally.
Also Note: In 2014, Srinagar suffered massive floods as River Jhelum over-flowed its banks; repairs are on, but new floods were reported in 2015 so check the latest position before you visit.