Sinchita Mitra

In your Kashmir tour, one of the most serene and idyllic experience is staying in a houseboat. Often found in Srinagar, a houseboat stay is magical and will make you fall in love with Kashmir all over again. It is also an extremely popular activity and Kashmir generates a lot of revenue for these houseboat stays.

Most of the houseboats are stationed at either the iconic Dal Lake or the Nagin Lake. While the latter is less popular, it is as stunning and enchanting as the Dal Lake. It is also less crowded, make your experience even more surreal.

To reach the houseboats, you have to sail on a Shikaras, which are similar to the Gondolas in Venice. These Shikaras have been famously used in Hindi films as icons of romance. Shikaras are also mesmerising and are a world of their own.

The Shikhara

To reach the beautiful houseboat floating in the middle of the serene lake, you need to first board a vibrant Shikara on your Srinagar Tour. The Shikara ride itself is quite scenic and you will find yourself traversing through the idyllic lake and the peaceful life of Srinagar.

Your luggage will also ride with you on the Shikara to the landing of the houseboat. Usually, the moment you enter, you are served a warm Kashmiri tea that will transport you to the fragrant orchids of Kashmir. You might also find vendors selling mache papers, hand-painted boxes, tinkering bells, fluorescent bangles, floral trays and other such items. There will be other vendors as well, you might be selling ethnic Kashmiri Jewellery. Try and bargain as much as you can and make your Shikara ride a little more eventful. It almost feels like you are riding with a market on board.

One of the best times to ride a Shikara is as the sun begins to set. Watch as lake turns into a golden hue and the entire valley assumes a beautiful kind of silence. It is so regal to gently sail away into the lake, as the winds hit your face and the sky Strats painting Srinagar.

Gradually you will start to see many houseboats lined up in the middle of the lake. There are many well-known hotel chains also those own houseboats and offer them to tourists. This site is worth watching, with dozens of palatial houseboats lined up, all covered in wooded panels and lovely verandah emerging from all of the boats.

The houseboats are connected to the land, however, the locals will always use Shikaras to bring tourists to give an illusion, that the houseboats are situated right in the middle of the lake.

Photography At Shikhara

While Shikaras are known for their vendors and pop shops, you will also find many photographers right as you deboard the shikhara to go on your houseboat tour. These photographers have a whole bunch of Kashmiri clothes which you can don right there in that shikhara, as it precariously sways from one side to the other. Then, pose away on your Srinagar tour, and be the Kashmiri Ki Kali on your Instagram photos. If you do not wish to pay a good amount of money for the printed photographs, then just give them your camera. They will click some photos on your camera for a small fee.

Floating Markets

While on your Shikara journey, your guide will also point you towards a unique floating vegetable garden. It is quite a delightful sight. A plethora of vegetable vendors ride on their boats brimming with vegetables. It is perhaps one of the most photogenic and quirky sights in Srinagar. The other floating market in Asia is located in Thailand.

The Houseboats

When you finally reach your destination on your Srinagar tour, you will find all the houseboats lined up waiting to be explored. In Srinagar, these houseboats look as if an entire village is surrounded by the lake. These houseboats in Srinagar are found in the Dal Lake and the Nagin Lake.

The houseboats in Srinagar are well suited for tourists with different preferences. There are a few rooms, a dining room, a common room and private bathrooms. The interiors are extremely cosy and will make you feel at ease.

There is also a little balcony that overlooks the chilled waters of the lake and gives you a view of the entire horizon. Watching the sunrise and the sunset from this balcony is surreal. Just wake up early in the morning, make your self a kawah, and watch as the sun starts to wake up from its slumber and enlightens the place. The misty fog covers the valley in a haze, and just as the sun begins to rise the haze starts to make for the rays of the sun. As the light touches Srinagar, the flowers sellers on their shikhara start wandering about and sail past the large houseboat.

Wooden Boats

Next morning on your houseboat tour, take around on a luxury boat that is located right around your houseboat. These luxury boats have intricate and pristine wood carvings. They also have little bathrooms with all kinds of facilities and every single piece of furniture is made by the fine local artisans of Kashmir. The work is so precise and beautiful that you will get lost in the cervices of the work. The carvings depict the flora and fauna of Kashmir and some of them show the culture of the valley.

Quick Tips

  1. Make sure to plan your Srinagar tour in such a way that you witness one sunset and one sunrise.
  2. Ensure you ride the Shikara at least once on your houseboat tour.
  3. If you do wish to buy something from the Shikara, then bargain as much as you can.
  4. Houseboat tours are quite popular in Srinagar, so pre-book your tour. Also, choose the kind of houseboat you want and the amenities that you need.
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