What can be more pleasing than to find that Dal lake is all yours – fascinating and peaceful with beautiful lotus and lilies alluring your senses as your Shikara rides slowly through the lake. We had the same feeling when we had an early morning Shikara ride on Dal lake during our visit to Srinagar.
We were staying at Hotel Kashmir Inn located at Khayam Chowk and left quite early for Dal lake as we wanted to see the Morning Vegetable Market in the Dal lake. It was still pitch dark and quite cold outside as it had rained heavily previous night. We hired an auto (Charges – Rs 40) to reach to Gate No 12 at Dal lake. There are multiple gates at Dal lake and you can get a Shikara from area around gate 12 and 13 as these gates are centrally located on the road along side Dal lake, Kashmir.
At Gate – 12 of Dal lake, there were few Shikara lined up but owners were still asleep inside. Soon, we met Mohammad who offered us Shikara ride on Dal lake. Actually, he was the only one around at such an early time. He told us that he always comes early to the lake and had been riding Shikara on Dal Lake since last 10 years. We wanted to see Morning Vegetable Market and it was getting late so Mohammad immediately started rowing his Shikara boat. There was no one around and ours was the only Shikara moving through the lake. On the way, we found boats selling flowers and vegetables. There were a lot of shops on the bank of Dal lake and Mohammad told that during day time, it gets very crowded and noisy.
After rowing for about 45 minutes, we reached to the Morning Vegetable Market in Dal Lake. Mohammad was continuously rowing so that we could reach the market on time. We were just in time as shopkeepers in their boats were about to wrap up their business. Its a wholesale market where farmers (who grow vegetables on the bank of Dal lake) come to sell vegetables and local shopkeepers from the city market come to the market to buy their supplies.
We stayed at the morning market for some time as Mohammad took time to catch his breath after rowing for almost an hour. Then our Shikara started moving around through the different markets within Dal lake. Meena Bazaar is a famous market in Dal lake and usually all Shikara owners will take you to this market for shopping. We told Mohammad that we would not like to shop and he humbly accepted our request without forcing us even once. We tried Kahwah, traditional Kashmiri drink as we stopped on the shop along way
Overall, we enjoyed our Shikara ride on Dal Lake as there was no crowd in the morning and it was all calmness and beauty around. Also, Mohammad navigated us through the internal small paths passing through lotus and Lilies flowers making it an enjoyable ride for us. After this enjoyable ride through Dal lake, we left for Gulmarg to enjoy the first snowfall of the season in Kashmir valley.
How to Book Shikara ride on Dal lake
You can always walk up to Gate No 12 or 13 form where you can book a Shikara for Dal lake on the spot. However, if you are going early morning, it may be difficult for you to get a Shikara. Mohammad agreed to share his number, so you can also connect with Mohammad at 09796347885 and prebook his Shikara as he is one of the early comers in the morning. For us, he charged Rs 500 for a ride of 2 hours. However, charges may differ during the peak season.