The Dal is famous not only for its beauty, but for its vibrance, because it sustains within its periphery, a life that is unique anywhere in the world. The houseboat and shikara communities have lived for centuries on the Dal, and so complete is their infrastructure on the lake, that they never have to step on land! Doctors, tailors, and bakers – you’ll see them all in tiny wooden shops on the lake, near picturesque vegetable gardens and acres of lotus gardens.
A shikara ride is one of the most soothing, relaxing aspects of a holiday in Kashmir. Shikaras are long boats which crowd the Srinagar lakes. They are used for getting back and forth from the houseboats or for longer tours. It is worth to take a pleasure ride around the lake in shikara. Shikara is a Gondola type light rowing boat.
The two hour boat ride takes tourists on a relaxing sightseeing tour of interior parts of the calm and placid waters of Dal Lake, and be part of shopping- by-shikara expeditions. Because the Dal is so central to the landscape of Srinagar, many places of tourist interest have, over the ages, been built in its vicinity. Nishat and Shalimar gardens as well as Hazratbal mosque are directly accessible by shikara.
Mostly crowded, the Shikara boat rides in Kashmir are also used to transport you from land to your houseboat and vice versa. It is worth your time and money to take that joyride ride around the lakes of Kashmir in a shikara. You can also access tourist spots like the Shalimar Garden, Nishat Garden, and the Hazratbal mosque via the Shikara as the Dal Lake is quite central to these places in Srinagar.
While riding on Shikara we can often observe white breasted Kingfishers (Halycon smyrnensis), large striking birds with robust bills perched on the branches of willow trees. These birds concentrate their efforts to hunting on the floating Gardens. These man made islands comprise of reeds, willow rods, aquatic vegetations and and held together with humus consisting of mud from the lake bottom. This is extremely fertile and provide rich source of food in the form of frogs,lizards,mice, grasshoppers and other insects to the Kingfisher.
Sightseeing on a shikara boat in Dal Lake and Nagin lakes culminates to a romantic trip especially if you are seated inside canopies of the Dal lake shikara boats. The feeling of joy and pleasure is unaccountable and the experience definitely unforgettable. The banks of the Dal Lake and Nagin Lake along the Boulevard road in Srinagar, Kashmir feature several Shikara Boat Ghats where the boats are available for hire. There are three main Shikara boat Ghats such as the Dal Gate, Nagin Lake, Hazratbal, Nehru Park, and Gagribal.