I had always heard about the Dal Lake in Kashmir. Known for its beautifully crafted houseboats, the lotus blooms and the Shikaras, the Dal Lake has always been celebrated as a backdrop for some lazy romance on its still waters.
So I was a bit skeptical when Mr. Mansoor, our host in Kashmir suggested us to stay in a houseboat on Nigeen Lake. Little did I know that I was in for a surprise.
It was early December. The leaves on the Chinar trees were still gold, but withering with a dull hue only reminding us of the fast approaching winter. Our very friendly, polite and skillful driver Mr. Nazir deftly turned the car into a pier of some sort. And then I saw the lake – shinning like a mirror even through the hazy setting sun. Waiting for us were some colourful Shikaras, which would take us to our houseboat. The temperature was dropping down quickly and the hazy sun was soon obscured by grey skies.
Kashmir has a charm of its own in every season.
A slow mist was beginning to wrap around the lake, blanketing the houseboats.
The Shikara lazily sailed over the deathly still lake. The view around was captivating. Misty glimpses of house boats in a row, the endless lake with only a few ripples, the far away sound of the Azan (call for prayer), the reflection of the crescent shaped moon in the waters filled me with a sense of utmost peace and tranquility.
On reaching a wobbly wooden pier, we were quickly ushered into our houseboat. Warm, carpeted and completely furnished with Walnut wood furniture, the dimly lit houseboat seemed cozy and inviting. I settled for a good night’s rest after a heartwarming meal.For the adventurous traveller, the experience of the off beat houseboats would definitely be a memory of a lifetime, quite different from the plush comforts of the neighboring hotels and resorts.
When I woke up in the morning my little bedroom was flooded with a warm golden glow. I froze as I walked towards the window. The lake was completely covered with frost reflecting the morning glow of the orange sun. Little water birds hopped around on what seemed to be the lotus garden; now lifeless on the frost covered lake. It was the most picturesque view I had ever seen.
I never imagined that there would be so much beauty in things so lifeless. How the valley comes back to life after the winter is only a miracle.
Location – Srinagar, Kashmir, India
Distance – 18km from the airport. Appx a 40min drive
Best time to visit – Once at least in every season
Contact – Mr. Mansoor, Oasis Guest House, Srinagar @ +91 9906474435