Have you ever seen floating happiness? If no, go to Srinagar and explore Dal Lake which redefines every emotion and gives a new meaning to expressions. For me, it was a vast expanse of floating happiness as far as I could see. The colors, the shades and the reflections give a different poise to this Lake which triggers a different shades of happiness within the soul, the mind and the heart.
Dal Lake in Srinagar is a natural wonder which has mind blowing ethereal beauty that no adjective can define. Every moment, one is bound to run out of adjectives in defining the shades, hues and nuances of the Dal Lake. With its surrounding snow-capped mountains, it creates an array of fantastic impression which has the imposing power to transform any human being. Every second spends within the time transcending aura of Dal Lake actually itches life defining moments in the mind that remain forever and beyond. For travelers with a Camera, it’s a constant dilemma whether to shoot or capture through eyes or lenses.
I always feel God must be riding on a Shikara while painting the world and sipping Himalayan Kahwa at the rooftop of a houseboat while drawing the blueprints of the world. Everyone can have their own Eden and I find my Eden in Dal lake and it’s a floating one. The famed apple grown in the Kashmir must have been that forbidden fruit that Eve and Adam were tricked to taste.
My first tryst with Dal Lake – Love at first sight
The first time when I saw it, it was winter time and the experience was truly one of its kind. I must mention, I started my 10 days long honeymoon from Dal Lake and probably that’s the reason why this lake has an bewitching impact on me. After a tiring fat Indian marriage, we landed in the Srinagar and were brought to the famed boulevard that encircles Dal Lake. Everything after that made our honeymoon much more memorable.
It was a cloudy day of February 2012 and as we boarded our Shikara Boat (water taxi), it started to snow. So, we had our two first-time experience at the same moment, Shikara Ride on Dal Lake and Snowfall. These two experiences were too much for us to handle while we were moving to our first houseboat stay. Our mind, heart and each of five senses were sold to the beauty all around – snowcapped mountains, snow-flakes falling freely, vast expanse of Dal Lake, locals on boats as mundane ritual, floating markets, and the linear positioning of legendary houseboats at the end. It was truly a heaven and we could then understand why Kashmir has always been referred as only Heaven on Earth. The memories of that first tryst with Dal Lake still tickles our senses and brings nostalgia-filled smile on our faces. It indeed was love at first sight and the first love never dies.
My second rendezvous with Dal Lake – love forever
Serendipity bestowed all its favors and flavors one me when I happened to reach Srinagar in June 2017. This time I could sense an array of intense feeling within me for Dal Lake for my heart, body, soul and mind were all stretched out to embrace the summer expanse filled with vivid hues and nuances. This time, I took a long morning walk along Dal Lake from Lalit Hotel to Nehru Market: I went on a long shikara ride deep inside the habitat and felt the length and breadth of the Lake. Aura of Dal changes every hour, so does the way people interact with the lake. In the morning I could sense highest order of reverence where people devote themselves to the heavenly presence of the lake, by the noon the lake becomes the centre stage of everything commercial and when its evening, Dal lake effuses much needed solace on everyone.
Floating market of Dal Lake
Life on the Dal Lake is multifaceted and it’s charmingly unhurried.
Dal Lake is just not a water body but the life line of thousands who live on and within it. It has numerous house boats which are fed with daily needs through floating market. A boat ride across and through this scenic yet rustic habitat gives a true glimpse to the mundane life of a Kashmiri. With every push of the oar, as boat goes inside the water-lanes, life on Dal Lake amazes your senses with its colorful life, impresses your mind with its exciting nuances and gradually induces your soul with its aroma for perpetuity.
The everyday hustle-bustle has everything from floating farms to floating vegetable market; from house boats turned into cozy home-stays to buzzing shops selling everything Kashmiri; from locals selling Kahva to locals singing folk songs while oaring famed shikara.
The Lalit Grand Hotel, Srinagar – A hotel like no other
During my second visit to Srinagar in 2017, instead of Houseboat, I stayed at The Lalit Grand which is on the banks of Dal Lake. During my three days stay, I realized Dal Lake and The Grand Lalit are inseparable. The grand hotel gives one of the best views of the Dal at every hour of the day. Entire set up of the hotel, adds heavy dose of romance and transcends you to other world. Full grown Chinar trees, lush green carpet of sprawling lawn, the grand building of this heritage worthy hotel present a super exciting panorama of Kashmiri beauty. When you stand between the two famed Chinars of The Lalit Grand and look not so far at Dal Lake, you will have your moment of truth.
The Lalit Grand is not just a Hotel but a pivotal witness to the history as it has unfolded in Kashmir Valley. It was designed and built by the royal family in early 20th century as a royal palace named Gulab Bhavan and since then it has invited icons and celebrities like Mahatma Gandhi, Lord Mountbatten, Pandit Nehru and many movie stars. With its antique furniture, classic upholstery and bewitching carpets, it showcases its undulating spleandour of 100 years everyday with romanticized élan.
Random Shots of Dal Lake
Every second i spent in and around Dal Lake during my two visits have been super memorable. Every moment is a reason to go there and explore everything again. Dal Lake is a timeless beauty which gives you innumerable opportunities to transcend time and be one with nature.
If you feel motivated, please share this blog post with your loved ones so that they can break the mundane cycle of everyday life and explore the world.