Dal Lake, Srinagar's jewel, is an 18-square-kilometer body of water with houseboats and a whole floating community. The Concept of houseboats here is from British times. We (myself, my parents, and my cousin) arrived in Srinagar late at night and booked a houseboat on Dal Lake, and then left our luggage and went for a Shikara (traditional Kashmiri boat) ride.
We came across floating shops for shopping, other houseboats, small floating restaurants. There are also floating vegetable markets that take place during the day. Their main sources of income include fishing, weed collection for compost, vegetable sales, and tourism. In the markets of this lake, the barter system is also evident. Shikaras are the primary mode of transportation, and even students ride their own to school.
It was lovely to ride around the lake late at night, with the temperature already low and the lake's water making it even lower. It was relaxing to take a Shikara ride around with no one else around and complete silence. The houseboats' lights provided adequate illumination. We had Fish Tikka prepared on another floating Shikara, which added to the relaxing atmosphere. We returned to the houseboat when the ride was completed.
We had breakfast on the houseboat's terrace in the morning. Every houseboat has its name and a floating garden attached to it; ours contained Kashmiri roses, which are much larger than regular white, pink, yellow, and red roses. Other flowering plants were geraniums, Himalayan Indigo, and tall trees were also present along with a lawn garden in the center having tables and chairs in case of enjoying meals in the garden.
The houseboat was brightly colored and tastefully adorned inside. There were sleeping rooms, a study room, a dining hall, and a hallway, and even a terrace. The interior was decorated in the style of a Kasmiri mansion, with fresh flowers and luxurious furniture, and light lamps over all the houseboats. We also conversed with the locals to learn more about their way of living.
The morning was mesmerized by the fragrance of roses and other flowers from the floating garden and snow-capped mountains around us, as well as a delicious breakfast while sitting on the houseboat balcony watching the sun change its direction and beautiful skies, people starting their days by working, Shikaras bringing fresh beautiful flowers, cars moving on roads, and birds chirping, and this is how the beautiful houseboat episode ended.
It is important to study areas both during the day and at night because they appear to be completely different at different times. Living aboard a houseboat should be on everyone's bucket list since it brings a whole new dimension to the experience of living and floating simultaneously.