The city of Srinagar has always been known for its enchanting magic and beauty. With gushing waterfalls, quiet temples, pristine valleys and of course, the calm and clear lakes, Srinagar tourism is flourishing. One of the places to visit in Srinagar that contributes largely to Srinagar tourism is the Dal Lake or Dal Jheel. Being the second largest in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Dal Jheel is known for its houseboats and shikaras that offer an entire tour of the lake. This Dal Jheel, Srinagar guide will provide you with all the details you need to have a wonderful and relaxing experience at one of the most popular places to visit in Srinagar.
Proudly known as ‘The Jewel in the Crown of Kashmir,' with the crown referring to Srinagar, Dal Jheel is the second largest lake in the state. With an area of 22 square kilometers, it represents the city of Srinagar globally and is a prized possession of the Kashmir. It is affectionately referred to as the heartbeat of Srinagar and maintains its position as the most favorite spot in Srinagar for tourists and locals alike. Bordered by the majestic Himalayas and other mountains on the one hand, and Mughal Gardens on the other, Dal Jheel offers tourists a variety of options to choose from to spend the day at this popular attraction.
Apart from just providing rejuvenation for tourists, Dal Jheel also offers other aspects of traveling like accommodation on their famous houseboats, adventure activities for adrenaline junkies and sightseeing options, which are available nearby.
When it comes to mythology, legend has it that Dal Jheel held an island named Isabar on the edge of its eastern coast. This was the home of Goddess Durga, which was fed by a spring called Satadhara. However, when it comes to science, it is a post-glacial lake that has gone through extreme changes in size. Another theory of the origin of the lake states that the Dal Lake was formed due to flood spills from the Jhelum River.
During the Mughal period, the Dal Jheel served as a summer resort and continued to be so during the Dogra dynasty as well. The gardens around the lake were developed and maintained by the Mughals while the government took over in recent times. The houseboats and shikaras are owned by the locals.
The beautiful lake has a depth of almost five ft and a maximum depth of 20 ft. The Dal Jheel is actually 18 square kilometers, but if you include the floating gardens or the ‘rad,' it comes up to 22 square kilometers. These floating gardens are known for their lotus flowers that blossom during summer. The Dal Lake is also divided into four main basins - Bod Dal, Nagin Lake, Gagribal Lake and Lokut Dal. Bod Dal holds an island called Sona Lank while Lokut Dal is also known as Rup Lank or Char Chinari.
The place is not only famous for its beauty and charm, but also for the number of attractions around it.
When it comes to sightseeing, there are quite a few places to visit in Srinagar that is around the Dal Lake including the Nagin Lake, which is actually a part of Dal Jheel but is considered as a separate lake. The Mughal Gardens are also a must visit. The ecosystem of the Dal Lake is diverse. However, the biosphere of the Mughal Gardens is much more diverse. The Shankaracharya Temple is another attraction that tourists love. It is located on top of a hill that the Boulevard Road leads to. You can travel halfway by vehicle, and from then on, you must climb 200 steps to reach this serene temple. The view from here is breathtaking. Hazratbal and Pari Mahal are two gorgeous structures to visit near the Dal Jheel. (Also read about shopping in Srinagar)
Apart from these attractions, Dal Jheel also has a number of activities to choose from. One can take a ride on the shikaras and enjoy a relaxing hour on the lake. Shikaras are the cultural symbol of Srinagar. The Boulevard Street is the main street on the shore of Dal Lake where all the houseboats and shikaras are lined up. There are also several markets and shops to buy various products from like the famous pashmina shawls.
Some interesting sellers are the mobile photo studios. They present some sample photos and costumes to choose from after which one can obtain an extremely similar photo of themselves. Some of the famous adventure activities available here are water skiing, golfing and hot air balloon riding.
Dal Lake has been highly popular in Bollywood. Over 20 films have been shot here including Jaanwar, Lamhaa, Yahaan, Mission Kashmir, Dil Se, Kabhi Kabhi, Junglee, Jab Jab Phool Khile, Kashmir Ki Kali, Rockstar and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. Dal Lake truly expands the imagination of a person with its beauty.
Although there are a number of options including budget hotels and luxury hotels for accommodation in Srinagar, the most popular option that tourists prefer for at least one night are the houseboats on the Dal Jheel. Most of these houseboats are run by local families. When it comes to food, Dal Lake offers Kashmiri and Mughlai cuisine.
The best time to visit Dal Lake in Srinagar would be between May to November, after which the lake freezes. However, this offers a great place for ice skating. There is no entry fee for Dal Jheel, and it is open all days from 6.00AM to 6.00PM. However, two or three hours are sufficient to get a good feel of the atmosphere here.
There is not one photo that is not worth taking at the Dal Lake. Its charm and magic enchants one and all, bringing tourists flocking to Srinagar every day.