By Ishaa Srivastava:
I feast my eyes on the stunning vistas of the Dal Lake, while Nazeer quietly manoeuvres his Shikara closer to the dock. It is 7am with a cloudless sky and crisp cool breeze. My heart skips a beat as I glibly slip into the Shikara and duck into the seat. It is basically a mini boat which tourists and locals use to travel around the lake. The Shikara wobbles under my weight but as soon as I am seated, my fear vanishes. The ride across the lake has a very heart-warming effect. I had never seen house boats, and there were so many around me! Shikaras which were beautifully hued, everywhere, while I was glancing out to make sure my eyes don’t miss out on anything, devouring the panorama which was sketched out right before my hungry eyes. The lake is mostly clean at many places and as you glide across the same, you feel nothing but an absolute, almost forced muteness.
Dal Lake is a tourist hub for most, although for a lot of people it also a means of livelihood. Restaurant? Check. Post Office? Check! Believe it or not there is also a barber’s shop on the lake! As we moved towards the busiest part of Dal, I realised that they have a full-fledged market right there on the water. Not only that, some people also practice farming and grow vegetables like cucumber and tomatoes on the water on what is called ‘floating land’.
The lake does not only provide for tourist attraction, but it is a means of livelihood for many people. To some, it is even their home. Since I reached there early morning, I had the opportunity to see such people. Shopkeepers who sleep in and around their stalls were setting it up, mothers were taking their children to school, houseboat owners were buying fresh flowers to decorate the boat and a lot of people had started working on the farms already.
There is so much more to Srinagar than the supposed scenic beauty and hills. It is just the perfect blend of Kashmir’s rich beauty and its progressive front. On all of my three trips to Srinagar, I’ve been repeatedly charmed by its weather, its people, the streets. Reach there in the perfect time of the year, and you’ll have for yourself an entirely fresh experience that you’ll look forward to yet again.