Houseboats: Can get from cheap to expensive rooms – Rs. 500 to some thousands Rs. Moderate is Rs.1000 with breakfast. The most important thing to check if they provide enough heating (especially if you come in non-summer season). It’s even more crucial than bathroom! A bonus if they have internet.
Shikara ride: There’s a notice board by J&K Tourism giving standard price of Rs.300 per hour for shikara ride. But you can always bargain (possible to get Rs.150)
Boat crossing: Rs.10 to Rs.40
If you havent had enough of Dal Lake views already! Some more photos I had to put here, for them being so beautifully tranquil. A big plus for being in this place in early April when you can hardly see tourist around. Dal Lake to my view should be a typical plain lake if it’s not because of the existence of classy houseboats sitting side-by-side, along with mountains at the back, making this place truly a Heaven on Earth, as it’s claimed to be.
We really love it when we’re riding the boat crossing the lake between houseboat and the land (Boulevard Road). You could opt for hotel all along the road side but if you truly want to experience Kashmir, it’s best to stay in the houseboat, although some facility might be not as good as hotels – the heating for example. Nonetheless, we feel blessed for having the chance to see such beautiful views and feel the calmness at the center of the lake.
Houseboats and many houseboats as if there are thousands of tourists at a time! I wonder if they’re fully occupied in summer. These ‘hotel’ houseboats are usually placed in front while the owner’s residence boats are sometimes hidden and do not look as fancy as hotel ones. Can I say, it’s actually their water village before it’s been commercialized as houseboats for tourist? Maybe. But Kashmir, being a tourism place for many decades already, it’s obvious that almost everyone is involved in tourism. If the family isn’t running a houseboat, they can be tourist guides, or run souvenir/fabric shops, or rickshaw driver, or anything to serve the tourist!
The best tranquility we have when watching villagers on their small boat commuting from one place to another, and it’s their primary means of transportation! Some boats are also functioning as portable shops, we’ve seen some boats carrying vegetables and food products to sell.
Each houseboat has its own decorations although the basic design is same (according to Mr Husam, most of the houseboats were built by the same manufacturers – hence the same design, especially all would have similar wooden ceiling). It’s nice to see what each houseboat differs from one another. Of course, some are really stunningly pretty like this white houseboat, and the rest are simple, and I believe they’re different by price rates as well.
The houseboats can range from Rs. 500 to some thousands Rs depending on its quality and season (late Autum, Winter to Spring is considered off season, hence no tourist we can see right now, and summer is definitely on season), also if you choose to get breakfast, lunch or dinner, combination of them or all meals. For our experience, we take breakfast with our room and prefer to go find lunch and dinner outside at restaurants or night market. You may want to skip breakfast and find it in shops too if you like, but I can sense that everyone in Kashmir (and India) only have the same boring bread and butter for their breakfast every single day! No rice as nasi lemak or roti canai we could expect. I mean, certainly no variety for breakfast at all.
In IndiaMike I was told not to book houseboat in advanced because there would be plenty you could bargain for during off season. But I hadn’t known back then and for safety, I had booked Ambassador Houseboat via email. And it turned out that there were really alot other houseboats we can always look for and compare prices, and from their offer, you can get as low as Rs. 500 even before bargaining! So I guess it’s not necessary to book houseboats before you really arrive in Srinagar.
Although people would suggest summer, I still believe April (Spring) is the best time to visit Srinagar and enjoy the Dal Lake, although it can be cold at night, but you will really get the most fantastic stay when you know you’re the only foreign tourists around. Or at least visible to your eyes :) Watch short clips below to see Dal Lake live and hear its wave :)
Dal Lake first day
More of Dal Lake