A visit to Srinagar is incomplete without a couple of nights in a houseboat. Srinagar and the life in it, revolves around the Dal Lake. The walks on the Boulevard, the shikara rides and the beautiful sunsets are best viewed with the lake in the foreground.
The lake is a city in itself and staying at a houseboat brings you that much closer to see life on this massive lake. The whole lake in itself is divided into sections - and one of them is closer to nature and it's called the "Lotus Lake". And you can experience this beautiful part of the lake on board the "Green Paradise". There is a certain charm to the life on the lake, the rippling waters, the slow sway of the boat and the sunsets.
From the time of kings, Kashmir had decreed that no outsider can own land in Kashmir. Houseboats were a clever way for the British to own places to stay in Srinagar. They employed Persians to build Cedar wood boats and interiors were elaborate with wooden carvings and chandeliers.
Owned by Sheikh Nisar and there are a fleet of other houseboats that his family owns. All of them are super deluxe boats (the highest category available). While some houseboats have 2 rooms, others have 3 rooms. Each houseboat has its own crew that takes care of your food and any activities that you want.
A shikara ride from the Ghats on the Boulevard will take you through shops and lanes of waterways to the houseboat where you will be welcomed with a traditional Kehwa Tea that you may enjoy on the sit out on the deck of the boat, while you watch life go by on the lake.
You can feel the wood thudding and the boat swaying slightly when you walk on the fully carpeted floor of the boat to find a very ornate living room that has Walnut wood furniture that is intricately carved and classic Kashmiri furnishing. The living room has comfortable lounge chairs, couches, a good collection of books left behind by travelers and comes with a TV and DTH connectivity for those who like to stay connected.
The rooms are cozy and warm with king size beds and heated mattresses that offer maximum comfort and bathroom that has a luxury tub. All the water to the boat comes from the fresh spring of Chashm-e-Shahi.
The dining area is where all your home cooked meals are served but you are definitely not discouraged to have your meals on the deck. If you would like to sample local fare, get the crew to serve you some Wazwan. If it's a cold evening and you'd like early supper, a barbeque dinner and bonfire can be arranged on the little island that adjoins the houseboat.
Take a taxi shikara ride to see the floating vegetable market in the wee hours of the morning. No matter how cold the weather is, there are vendors and while you return you may stop by the island of the 4 maple trees called the "chaar chinaar" or shop from the mobile vendors that bring local produce or little eats on their shikaaras. Watch lotus blooms on your side of the lake in June and July. If you are going any other time of the lake, you can always bird watch in the mornings where you can spot Siberian migratory birds, go fishing in the evenings or star gaze at night and watch the sunset from the deck providing enough opportunities for photography. The houseboat is also perfect to read and rejuvenate.
A lot of the guests love to use the houseboats as a base while Sajaar who manages the houseboat plans out treks to beautiful vistas. Tents, camping equipment, stock, horses and meals can be arranged and one of the crew members can be your guide while you discover virgin territory in Kashmir.
CheersBye © 2016