Kashmir is an extraordinarily beautiful and memorable place to visit in India. Despite all the conflict present, it is definitely possible to catch a glimpse of serenity and peace in this lush valley. In this piece we will be describing the houseboat experience in Kashmir.
In Srinagar all the houseboats have their spot on the Dal, Nagin or Jhelum lakes.They are entirely made from wood and carved intricately and polished . They are furnished with carved furniture as well, along with ornate carpets and embroidered accents. The houseboats serve traditional Kashmiri dishes as well as continental meals followed by beverages such as fragrant saffron tea or Kahwah. There is a distinct family atmosphere in houseboats. The hosts take you in as someone they know on a close personal level.
An example of houseboat meals are:
- Vibrant Kashmiri red chilli peppers :These are mild chillies that add color and aroma to the food.
- Yogurt and meat dish with meatballs called Rista: This is a mutton meatball dish cooked with saffron, black cardamom, green cardamom, cinnamon and cloves
- Seekh Kababs
- Tabak Maz: This is a Lamb Snack
- Rogan Josh (Mutton curry with red Kashmiri Chillies )
- Chaman (Fresh Cottage Cheese)
- Dam Allu: Spiced Potatoes
- Lotus Stem
The Dal, Nagin, and Jhelum Lake of Houseboats
The lakes are not only the home of the houseboats but also of many floating shops and markets. You can find so much in these markets. Colorful and embroidered shawls, scarves, clothing, jewelry, carpets, artistic papier-mâché products are just a few examples. The artistry and craftsmanship present in the region have been famous for centuries.
As the shikaras (small kayak-like boats) take you through the lake, the scenery is very unique. The mountains and the trees of the region cultivate a magical atmosphere that one is unlikely to have experienced elsewhere.
It is very common for shikaras full of flowers to come over to your houseboat. The hosts of the houseboat usually have a strong network all around the lakes. If you need anything you can always let them know and they will have someone selling it, come over in a shikara to your houseboat.
The concept here of this floating world studded with treasures all around makes it stand out.
Five Best Houseboats of Kashmir
- Wangnoo Heritage Houseboats, Nagin Lake
- Houseboat Inshallah, Nagin Lake
- Mascot Houseboats, Nagin Lake
- Zaffer Group of Houseboats, Nagin Lake
- Houseboat Kingori, Dal Lake
The History of Houseboats in Kashmir
The British used to like to come to Kashmir during the heat of the summer. The Hindu Maharaja at the time, however, would not permit them to own land here. This led to the rise of popularity of the houseboats on the lakes.
One must certainly have a Kashmir houseboat experience if possible. The breathtaking views, the reality of the feeling of “heaven on earth” and the attention to detail in the houseboat experience are so valuable.
The hosts of the houseboat can also arrange trips into other parts of Kashmir and arrange tours of Srinagar itself. There are many sights to see on land as well such as temples, palaces, and gardens. The extensive Mughal influence and history give Kashmir its distinctive look, feel and ethos.
It is very sad that Kashmir has been defined by all the instability and conflict over the past decades. It seems tragic that a place so uniquely beautiful should be shrouded by violence and political unrest. Let us hope that things settle down and that everyone can be free to view the “heaven on earth” again.
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The Dal, Nagin and Jhelum Lakes.
The shikaras are the main form of transport.
Wangnoo Heritage Houseboats, Nagin Lake
Houseboat Inshallah, Nagin Lake
Mascot Houseboats, Nagin Lake
Zaffer Group of Houseboats, Nagin Lake
Houseboat Kingori, Dal Lake