A Floating Trip in the Kashmir Valley
The Nagin Lake and Dal Lake in Srinagar have been the driving force behind the growing popularity of houseboats in Kashmir. The entire picturesque is also responsible for the place earning the title of ‘The Venice of the East’. The peddlers powered by water have everything for sale ranging fromm paie maiche to saffron. A Kashmiri gondola- the Shikhara- will offer youa scenic beauty including the mountainous ranges reflected on the lakes to the vegetable markets floating on water. Houseboat experience in Kashmir is offered by several tour packages, giving you a detailed sightseeing of the Nagin and the Dal lakes. These houseboats are covered with handmade Kashmiri carpets, rich in fabrics and cultural depiction.
Kashmiri Houseboats – Short Background:
It was way back in the 19th century that Srinagar’s boat-dwelling community initiated constructing the luxurious version of the houseboats for visitors. These luxury dwellings were named “New Pala Palace”, “H.B.Duke Well”, “Silver Stereet”, etc showing that they were owned by the British settlers. Since these settlers were unable to buy any plot in Srinagar, they invested in developing the houseboat tradition.
In this way the houseboat tradition grew to be a hotel business in which you can pay for renting an entire boat or a room in it. Majority of the tourists from across the country spend their summers in this pleasant climate with serene surroundings apt for sightseeing. However, the rate of foreigners touring this place is little owing to political tension hanging in the air all the time. The hospitality of the Kashmiris is unquestionable, giving the tourist a warm and homely welcome.
The houseboats are generally made out of cedar wood available locally and measuring somewhere between 24m and 38 m in length with a width ranging between 3 to 6 metres. They are graded as luxury hotels on the basis of their design and comfort levels. While many have furnished rooms with additions like terrace and veranda for serving evening cocktails or as sun-decks, others are simple rooms with lesser luxurious items for guests. These houseboats have individual anchoring and are inter-connected to the other boats through bridges.
Houseboat Packages for Visitors:
For a 3 days-2 nights package, you can expect the following itinerary details in the deal.
Arrival at Srinagar – Day 1:
On the first day you will be received at the airport from where you will be taken to the houseboat for check-in. Srinagar is termed as the ‘Venice of Asia’ and the ‘paradise on earth’ and an afternoon sightseeing will make you understand why. Your tour will include visiting the famous Cheshmashahi or The Royal Spring, the Mughal Gardens, the Shalimar Gardens or the Abode of Love, the Nishat Gardens or The Garden of Pleasure along with the famed Shankaracharya Temple. Dinner will be served on the boat followed by a good night’s rest in it.
Srinagar to Gulmarg Day 2 Tour:
Once you are done with the breakfast, the tour guide will take you out of the houseboat- hotel for an excursion to Gulmarg, the Meadow of Flowers, where a lot of activities and much more sightseeing await you. You can visit the Ski Resort for an adrenalin rush or simply play golf at the highest course with 18 holes. After an eventful day, you will be escorted back to the houseboat for dinner and rest.
Departing Srinagar – Day 3:
Post the breakfast extravaganza, a shikara ride awaits you. Take as many memories as you can in this boat ride and return to the houseboat for a check-out. You will be guided back to the airport from where you can fly back to your destination.