Auto-rickshaw from Dal Gate to Clermont Houseboat: Rs.100
We arrived at Mr Ghulam Butt’s Clermont Houseboat after lunch at Lhasa Restaurant. And to our surprise, this houseboat is very exclusive and an outstanding from the bunch of houseboats we had seen earlier in Dal Gate. It comes with its private garden, and consists of 4 to 5 big houseboats, a house of the workers and housekeepers, a kitchen, a gallery building, and another small house for souvenir shop. Also, a posh-looking summer cottage in the corner. All of this are located inside a private gated area belongs to its respectful owner, Mr Ghulam Butt, elder brother of Mr Bashir.
Two of the houseboats at Clermont.
In the gallery, where hundreds of word-wide magazines an newspaper featuring Clermont Houseboat. You can guess that it’s been established since the earlier generation of their fathers. Ever since, alot of big names like US presidents and UK ministers, Beatle George Harrison among others have stayed in Clermont Houseboat. You wont dare ask the price rate of the houseboat here :P
Mr Ghulam Butt and us, in his gallery with photos of their guests, big names which some of them we know and the rest we dont, yet it’s clearly understood that Clermont Houseboat is well known of VVIPs all over the world when they come to Kashmir. We dont know our place among them (feel so down and small!) yet we were treated as if we were VVIP too! The family at Clermont’s are so great and we loved having a chat with Ramzan, a man who has worked here for 45 years with the family. Ramzan would come to prepare our room, breakfast and dinner. His family lives like half an hour away but he only goes back home once a week.
The living room in Clermont Houseboat. True Kashmiri style!
Ramzan preparing Kashmiri tea while we had a chat with Mr Ghulam Butt.
Left: the hallway to rooms in the houseboat. The houseboat has two rooms but currently nobody’s staying in either room. We were given a big room in the big houseboat for first two nights. We gasped when we saw our room has a neat window facing the majestic Dal Lake! And mountains view ahead!
Mr Ghulam said we could do shikara ride at the Dal Lake.. one of the men in Clermont’s owns his shikara there and we would have a ride for Rs.250 for one hour. Although, we said we would go visit Nasim Bagh (the opposite road of this place) for a quick walk this evening.
The view out of our window!!! Isn’t this great?? :)
The bathroom, and another room next to our room (unoccupied this time). And travel magazine that featured Clermont Houseboat.
Ramzan preparing our dinner. They cook great Kashmiri food.
Kashmiri food is to us a bit ‘overcooked’ yet really interesting. They use alot of vegetables, only sometimes have meats and chicken. Also, they even had this cheese curry! Yup, cottage hard cheese being cooked as part of the main ingredients.
The breakfast is usual Western-style scrambled eggs, toast and butter. Perfect with Kashmiri cinnamon tea (I loved it for first cup, but two cups is a bit too much at a time, the cinnamon taste is strong!)
Ramzan preparing the heater. Although this heater is centralized in the living room (which we didnt see in Ambassador houseboat previously) it’s still usinng traditional wood-burning outside. He would manually burn the coal outside to enable the heating as well as water heater.
We were so lucky to be in Clermont Houseboat. It’s truly like winning a honeymoon package! Thanks so much to all Butt’s family for your generosity of hosting us as part of your family.