Shikara Ride in Dal Lake Kashmir the dreams
From Kashmir ki Kali with Sharmila Tagore wearing a traditional dress with Shammi Kapoor to Preity Zinta in Mission Kashmir, Dal lake is a symbol of love and romance. There would hardly be a few who would not have fallen in love with the concept of a leisure ride, soaking in the beautiful pristine nature all around and fresh air. The silent water body and the splash of the oar as it cuts into the water creates its own music. I am being told that the oars consist of a rare shovel which is not manufactured in India.
How much does it cost for a Shikara ride in Dal Lake Kashmir?
The journey starts from the beginning of Dal Lake and continues for an hour which can be extended on request and on payment of additional money. We had our designated guide/ tour operator fixing this up for us and it costed us 400 INR for 1 hour. The photographer in me wanted more time. So we negotiated and got an extra hour for additional INR 300.
It’s a new world after a Shikara ride in Dal Lake
After a while that we started our ride, I began to chat up with the boatman who appeared to be extremely reclusive to speak other wise. Mushtaq was born in the lake, his last 4 generations have been there in the lake but his sons will not come to this business for insufficient pay. There are about 10000 shikaras plying in Dal lake and about 5000 Houseboats. As the journey starts, after some point of time, there are small time vendors who sell various things will come near your Shikara to showcase and sell local items and artifacts. In Kashmir, a Kahwa (the local tea) is always welcome but when it comes to Saffron, wooden crafts work and other artifacts, it can get a little tricky to buy it from anywhere. It is better not to buy them at the lake. I was even warned that the saffron sold on the lake was mostly coloured grass. There are Kashmiri Shawls and woolen garments and as well as a Photo opportunity to get dressed up as a Kashmiri woman and get clicked.
The backwaters have got various shops including Kashmiri handicrafts, carpets and wooden artifacts, to even a mini restaurant in the middle of the lake. One of the islands of Rupa Lank or popularly known as ‘char chinar’, has four majestic Chinar trees standing tall at the four corners. It is nothing short of picturesque. Selling of vegetables in a Shikara on the lake or a little kid going to school with her mother or two old friends catching up over a smoke are some of the scenes which will be etched in the memory forever. Other than the Shikaras and the Shikara ride in Dal Lake, there are Houseboats for overnight stay or a longer duration stay and some beautiful pictures can be captured as the reflections of the colourful houseboats play on the water.