Houseboats: Luxuriously Live on Water in Kashmir
Crossing through floating post-offices, vegetable markets and flower bazaars inundated with tulips—trying to find your calling—the shikara lets you hunt.
Hear the soft murmur of Islamic prayers in the background and even folk songs. The calling here is to select the best Houseboat on Dal Lake to experience the beauty of Jammu and Kashmir.
As your shikara floats, spot the large wooden houseboats, permanently moored at the periphery of Dal Lake and Nigeen Lake in Srinagar. Watch the local villagers growing egg plants and carrots along the lake. Then slowly, trudge towards selecting one of your best Jammu and Kashmir Houseboats, definitely a cultural symbol and tourist attraction.
Over the past decades, experiencing the beauty of this ‘Paradise on Earth’ has become easier with the Kashmir houseboat costs dwindling down. So be it for intimate romance or leisure travel, houseboats in Kashmir in Dal Lake are quite irresistible. It is also a paradise for bird-watchers.
History of houseboats in Kashmir reveals that over a period of time, these floating hotels—which were initially developed during the time of King Yousuf Shah Chak, between 1579 to 1586—are now owned by families, generation after generation. Presumably, the first houseboat in Kashmir was built in 1888 by M.T. Kenhard and was called as ‘Victory.’
Currently, there are around 1200 houseboats, far different from the houseboats or “Kettuvallam” of Kerala. The popularity of houseboats further escalated when Indian Sitar maestro Ravi Shankar mentored Beatle’s guitarist George Harrison to play sitar on a houseboat in Dal Lake in 1966. And since then, it impressively emerged as the magic of Kashmir Tourism.
Following are the main tourist attractions of houseboats in Kashmir
Usually made of wood from Deodar tree which can remain in water for more than 100 years, it is sturdy as well as water resistant. Walnut wood is primarily used for creating the interior accessories. Even today, manual labour and crude hand tools are used for its traditional construction, artistically reflecting the exquisite beauty of Kashmiri art and decor. Their designing reflects a blend of Indian chintz and 20th century British motif designs. It takes around more than six months to construct it.
Size and Structure
Ranging from 2-5 bedrooms, the size of houseboats are either 100-120 feet long with 15 ft width or 150 feet long with 18 feet width. The open deck for sunbathing further adds to the attraction of houseboats. Nowadays, these floating hotels have 3-4 floors, further endowing luxurious accommodation in Kashmir. The department of tourism has categorized the houseboats as ‘Deluxe Class’, followed by ‘A Class’, ‘B Class’ and ‘C Class’. Interestingly, few houseboat owners offer their own self-declared ‘Super Deluxe’ houseboats, too.
Luxuriously adorned with carpets, crewel curtains, foot-mats and embroidered bed sheets, the interior furnishing of the floating houseboats in Kashmir is downright spectacular. The elegant bedrooms paneled with cedar wood make the entire experience of living on water utterly nostalgic. The colourful glass windows further enhances the beauty.
Along with the entire ambience proffered by the houseboats, one can also get tempted by the mouth-watering Kashmiri cuisines served. These include delectable chicken dishes as well as the multi-course meal Wazwan. Lamb stew with spicy vegetables and rice is another favourite. Nevertheless, foreigners can also order innumerable multi-cuisines.
So, imagine yourself, lazily unwinding with a casual sun-bath in a Luxury Houseboat in Kashmir, utterly lost in the Himalayan dreamscape with a touch of elegance and beauty.
Best Time to Visit Srinagar
Kashmir is a year-round tourist destination, but the best time to visit here is between March to October. During this period the climate is best and one can witness sparkling blossoms of plants, fruits, and alpine meadows.
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