Are you looking for things to do in Dal Lake? Explore Dal Lake’s vibrant culture and natural beauty with our curated list of activities. From serene shikara rides to exploring floating markets, discover the essence of Kashmir’s iconic lake. Experience the magic of Dal Lake with these unforgettable adventures!
Having immersed myself in the charm of Dal Lake for over a week, I can attest to having thoroughly explored its beauty and surrounding areas. Following my exhilarating Kashmir Great Lakes (KGL) trek, en route back to Bangalore, I prolonged my stay in Srinagar, opting for a week’s vacation aboard a houseboat on Dal Lake. Now, I can unequivocally declare my affection for Dal Lake; it evokes a profound emotional connection, with its perpetual allure and captivating moments unfolding throughout the day.
PIN for later reference – Things To Do in Dal Lake
This article may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. For complete information, please see our affiliate disclaimer here.
About Dal Lake
At the heart of Srinagar, Dal Lake is the city’s focal point, an urban oasis nestled amidst its bustling streets. This picturesque lake is integral to the region’s natural wetlands, boasting enchanting floating gardens that add to its allure.
Spanning across an expansive 18 square kilometres, Dal Lake serves as a multifaceted hub, facilitating various commercial endeavours like fishing and the harvesting of water plants. It’s worth noting that “Dal” translates to “lake” in Kashmiri, further enhancing the significance of this majestic waterbody.
How to Get to Dal Lake?
The distance between Srinagar Airport and Dal Lake is approximately 20 kilometres, with taxi fares typically amounting to around INR 1000 for a one-way trip. Conversely, Dal Lake lies roughly 10 kilometres from the heart of Srinagar city.
10 Things To Do in Dal Lake
- Make sure to negotiate the prices to get the best deal possible.
Take a Shikara Ride at Sunrise or Sunset
A quintessential experience at Dal Lake is embarking on a Shikara (small boat) ride, ideally timed during the serene moments of sunrise or sunset. These leisurely boat journeys offer a tranquil beginning or conclusion to your day. Numerous Shikara operators eagerly await tourists along the lake’s shores.
The cost for a one-hour ride typically ranges from INR 400 to INR 700. My observations showed that rates tend to be more economical at the lower gates or ghats (specifically ghat numbers 7 to 9), gradually increasing as you venture towards higher-numbered ghats (such as ghat 15 to 17).
A Shikara is characterized by its small size, lightweight construction, and flat-bottomed design, making it an iconic vessel in the waterways of Kashmir.
Visit the Lotus Pond
Certain sections of Dal Lake feature captivating floating gardens showcasing the splendour of lotus and lily blooms. During a Shikara ride, you’ll have the opportunity to glide gently past these enchanting gardens, allowing you to admire the vibrant hues of these exquisite flowers up close.
Please note that the one-hour Shikara ride encompasses visiting the lotus garden, ensuring you don’t miss out on this mesmerizing experience.
Stop at Nehru Park
Nehru Park, nestled near ghat number 15, offers a tranquil setting ideal for unwinding in the evening. As the sun sets, the park becomes the perfect spot to enjoy the twinkling city lights, casting a mesmerizing glow over the surroundings.
The one-hour Shikara ride includes visiting Nehru Park, ensuring you can savour this serene oasis without additional entry fees.
Dal Lake is a paradise for bird enthusiasts, boasting diverse local and migratory avian species. With over 150 bird species, the lake offers a rich tapestry of winged wonders to observe and admire. One of my most cherished moments was witnessing three Trufted duck chicks dutifully following their mother, a sight so endearing it left me speechless with its sheer cuteness.
Visit Char Chinar Island
Char Chinar island stands as one of the three enchanting islands adorning Dal Lake, celebrated for its stunning Chinar trees that lend an ethereal charm to its landscape. While the island was initially adorned with four majestic Chinar trees, only one remains today. Despite this, the efforts of the floriculture department are earnestly directed towards restoring the island to its former splendour.
Upon arrival, visitors will find a quaint park nestled amidst the verdant surroundings, albeit bustling with shikara men offering jewellery and souvenirs.
Embarking on a shikara trip to Char Chinar island entails a delightful two-hour journey, with the return trip typically priced at INR 1500. Notably, no entrance fee is required to explore this picturesque island sanctuary.
See the Cheerful Charley
Do you recall the iconic Bumbro Bumbro song from Mission Kashmir? This memorable scene was filmed at the renowned Cheerful Charley houseboat, now a popular tourist attraction on Dal Lake. While visitors cannot venture inside the houseboat, they can certainly appreciate its charm and history from the exterior.
Included in the one-hour shikara ride is a stop at the Cheerful Charley houseboat, allowing guests to admire its beauty and significance amidst the tranquil waters of Dal Lake.
Stay at a Houseboat
Dal Lake offers many houseboat options for travellers across all budget ranges, from the thrifty to the indulgent. During my time in Srinagar, I had the pleasure of experiencing stays at three distinct houseboats, each possessing charm and allure. Among them, the standout was undoubtedly the houseboat managed by Club Mahindra Properties, offering impeccable service and a memorable stay. However, my experience at a tie-up property by Sterling was marred by disappointing and subpar service.
The accommodation packages at most houseboats include the Shikara rides, providing convenient transportation between the main road (ghat) and the houseboat. Should the rides not be inclusive, they typically cost between INR 50 and INR 100 for a one-way trip.
The cost of staying at a houseboat varies depending on the level of luxury and amenities provided, ranging from INR 2500 to INR 5000 per night. Whether you seek budget-friendly accommodations or a lavish retreat, Dal Lake’s houseboats offer something for every traveller’s preference.
Watch a Fisherman in Action
Dal Lake is renowned for its abundance of Kashmiri fish, and in the early mornings, the lake comes alive with fishermen diligently casting their nets in pursuit of their catch. Observing them in action is a delight as they deftly maneuver their nets and showcase their skill in reeling in the day’s haul.
Engaging in conversation with these fishermen often yields fascinating insights into their craft, as some are eager to share the intricacies of the fishing process and demonstrate their expertise firsthand. It’s a captivating experience that offers a glimpse into the vibrant livelihoods intertwined with the lake’s serene waters.
Dine at a Restaurant
Dal Lake boasts several charming restaurants where visitors can savour the local delicacies. Whether you are seeking a quick snack or a leisurely dinner, these restaurants offer a delightful culinary experience.
For a unique dining ambience, consider stopping by one of the establishments while on your shikara ride. Some restaurants even offer the enchanting experience of dining under the open sky, allowing guests to immerse themselves fully in the picturesque surroundings of Dal Lake.
Shop at Floating Market
A distinctive attraction of Dal Lake is its floating market, a sight unlike any other in India. While gliding along in your shikara, you can browse and purchase souvenirs or fresh vegetables from the vendors at this unique market. It’s an experience that adds a touch of novelty to your journey, offering a glimpse into the vibrant local culture of the region.
Included in the one-hour shikara ride is a visit to the floating market, ensuring that you don’t miss out on this fascinating aspect of Dal Lake.
Is Srinagar Safe for Solo Female Travellers?
Srinagar, encompassing Dal Lake, is exceptionally safe for solo female travellers. The presence of law enforcement officers, including cops and CRPF personnel stationed at every corner, ensures constant monitoring and security throughout the area. During my extended stay of over a week, I encountered no issues. However, it’s worth noting that some shikara operators may approach you closely, offering their services for a ride. Apart from this minor solicitation, I experienced no difficulties.
It’s advisable to return to your houseboat by 10 PM, as movement is restricted after this time. This precautionary measure further enhances the overall safety and security of travellers.
Throughout my travels in Srinagar, I had the pleasure of relying on an amiable and reliable auto driver. Below are the details of this exceptional individual:
- Name: Mehraj
- Contact Number: +91 70518 70946
Every aspect of Dal Lake, from its captivating sunsets to the bustling shikaras and lively avian inhabitants, exuded sheer beauty. My fondness for the lake is so profound that I would eagerly return and stay there again without hesitation.
Have you had the pleasure of visiting Dal Lake? Share your experiences and favourite activities by writing to me at Solopassport@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you!
- The prices mentioned in the post are valid only at the time of publication. Ensure that you check the booking websites for up-to-date information and prices.
- Opinions and views expressed solely by me are unbiased. If the post is a collaboration, then they are specifically mentioned.
- Ensure that you check the relevant websites for up-to-date information on COVID protocols.
- For any adventurous activities, please note that there is a risk that can be dangerous. Ensure you read the terms and conditions recommended by individual agencies and do them at your own risk.
- For visas, it is best to see the embassy website for changing rules.
- While using the recommended guides, auto-drivers or taxi drivers, do your due diligence and trust your judgement.
How can you support me?
You know how much I love coffee, so you can buy me a coffee – Buy me Coffee!
Or you can purchase from one of the below travel resources without any extra charge to you:
Book your flight on Skyscanner.com or Trip.com
Reserve your accommodation on Stay22
Reserve your stay at a hostel on HostelWorld
Use RentalCars or DiscoverCars for hiring self-driven cars
Book your tours and travels or purchase tickets on Viator or GetYourGuide
For a universal SIM card, use DrimSim
Buy comprehensive travel insurance on SafetyWing and WorldNomads
Do you have a question? Do you want any suggestions and tips for travel, hikes, and scuba dives? Use the Subscription box below to sign up and get updates by email.