Dal Lake and houseboats

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.

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Snow in Gulmarg!

How to get there: take bus at JKT bus stand, return fare for Rs.270, the ride is 2 hours including stop at Tanamarg to rent winter coat. I guess you can also find a way to go by Tata Sumo shared taxi, as we did to go Pahalgam
Winter coat/jacket/boot rental: Full body, Rs.100, boots only Rs.50
Gondola: from base to first stage Rs.300, from first stage to second stage Rs.500

Our first snow, ever! Excuse us for coming from tropics and never ever before had seen this white fluffy cold thingy called snow. We didnt actually, really expect to see this much of snow when it’s already April, and from the forum where someone had posted her photos coming to Kashmir in April 2010, the same month but only last year, there was barely snow in Gulmarg, only thin layers mixed with sand. That’s the reason we didnt pack for cold weather at all. Az only brought all T-shirts!! I had to lend him my long-sleeve shirt to warm his arms under his nylon Adidas jacket. So I guess we were surprisingly lucky this year that the weather is still colder than usual (we could already feel it when we arrived in Srinagar, although unprepared with not much warm clothing). Thankfully Mr Husam of Ambassador Houseboat let us borrow one of his winter jackets when we told him that we were going to Gulmarg.

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Mughal Darbar Restaurant, Srinagar

Dinner first night: Mutton biryani, mushroom korma – Rs.320
Dinner second night: Kashmiri Biryani pulao, salad, tea – Rs.300
Dinner third night: Kashmiri Biryani pulao, mutton sour soup, papadom – Rs.440

I first heard of Mughal Darbar restaurant from one of the forums in IndiaMike – where I’ve got most of info and travel advice for India. The way they recommend it as if it’s a must-visit restaurant if you happen to be in Srinagar. Later, when Az & I was researching from Lonely Planet book we got from library, and this LP book is the oldest edition we ever seen – 1970’s!! And this book featured Mughal Darbar as well, and I mean, since 1970s! Therefore, we really have to go and see how special this restaurant should be.

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Hazratbal Mosque and town

Auto-rickshaw from Dal Gate to Hazratbal (return): Rs. 300 
Crispy fried lotus roots: Rs.10
Shoe repair: Rs.30

Our first outing in Srinagar, we really dont know how to get to where. Because it seems a bit late by now to visit the gardens (Shalimar Bagh, Nishat Bagh etc) we decided to go to Hazratbal this afternoon and do the gardens another day. At the Dal Gate where we saw many auto-rickshaws, one of them approaches us making an offer, that he could ‘bundle’ all main destinations in Srinagar (Hazratbal and the gardens for two days) for Rs. 700. Surprisingly, we did not bargain and agreed (which I later blamed Az for agreeing too fast and myself for not objecting), perhaps we were mesmerized with his nice way of offering. So the driver brought us to Hazratbal, which is actually a town the other side of Dal Lake by some 7km, and it takes rather a while driving at small roads but we enjoyed watching views we passed by.

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Ambassador Houseboat

Double room with breakfast: Rs.1000 

When our bus arrived at the Tourist Information Center station, there came a number of men asking where we’re heading, if we need a hotel or houseboat or rickshaw etc. Some even offered houseboat at Rs. 500, which is very cheap compared to what I’ve agreed with Ambassador Houseboat via email. I told them we already booked our houseboat, and mentioning Mr Husam of Ambassador, suddenly a guy gave a signal that Mr Husam is around here.

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