>  Paradise   >  4.Srinagar’s Elegance Unveiled: A Rain-Kissed Shikara Symphony

Srinagar, the jewel of Kashmir, opened its doors to me with a promise of enchantment and cultural richness. The first leg of my exploration took me to the heart of this captivating city, where the lure of shawls and embroidered curtains blended seamlessly with the iconic Dal Lake. Join me as I recount the details of an extraordinary day, highlighted by a shikara ride through rain-kissed waters, floating gardens, and the unexpected allure of Gulmarg.

Shawl Shopping and Dal Lake Arrival:
Stepping into Srinagar, I found myself navigating through bustling markets, adorned with vibrant shawls and Kashmiri embroidered curtains. Laden with my newfound treasures, I was whisked away to the enchanting Dal Lake, a shimmering expanse that promised both tranquility and adventure.

Dal Lake – Lake of flowers

Shikara Ride: A Symphony on the Water:

As I boarded my private shikara, the gentle ripples of Dal Lake mirrored the excitement within. Each houseboat had its exclusive shikara, a small wooden vessel with a spade-shaped bottom and a protective canopy. These cultural symbols of Kashmir not only ferried tourists but also served as floating markets for fruits, vegetables, and flowers—a delightful spectacle that unfolded before me.

Floating Gardens and Enchanting Markets:

The shores of Dal Lake painted a mesmerizing picture, with Mughal-era gardens, houseboats, and hotels lining the boulevard. The floating gardens, locally known as “Rad,” were a burst of color, adorned with blooming lotus flowers during the monsoon months. My shikara journey included gliding through Meena Bazaar and other markets, where the vibrant display of Kashmiri souvenirs and clothing offered a sensory treat.

Unexpected Rain: A Shikara Shelter:

As if in harmony with the beauty around, the sky opened up, and the drizzle turned into a gentle rain shower. Seeking refuge inside the shikara, I marveled at the surreal sight of raindrops tapping on the lake’s surface. Undeterred by the weather, the shikara operator seamlessly transitioned into a guide, helping me locate my driver amid the unexpected downpour.

A Rain-Kissed Shikara Tale: Immersed in Kashmir's Beauty

My shikara glided through the serene waters of Dal Lake, a dance of elegance amid the reflections of the surrounding mountains. The experience was nothing short of enchanting – the gentle breeze, the rhythmic paddling, and the promise of hidden wonders around every corner.

As the shikara meandered through the floating markets, I couldn’t help but be captivated by the vibrant displays of Meena Bazaar and other local markets. The air was filled with the aroma of spices, and the market stalls showcased an array of Kashmiri souvenirs and clothing, a testament to the rich cultural tapestry of the region.

One of the highlights was observing the shikara boats doubling as floating shops, laden with fresh vegetables and fruits. It was a picturesque sight, a floating symphony of commerce against the backdrop of the Dal Lake.

Amidst this aquatic marketplace, a friendly shikara operator extended a warm invitation. He insisted I don a traditional Kashmiri dress and captured the moment with Dal Lake as the backdrop. It was a delightful experience, a snapshot frozen in time, blending the cultural essence of Kashmir with the natural beauty surrounding us.

As the shikara ride neared its end, a gentle rain began to fall, creating a serene melody on the water. Seeking refuge inside the shikara, I marveled at the raindrops dancing on the lake’s surface, adding an unexpected layer of magic to an already enchanting journey.

The shikara operator, despite the rain, became a beacon of assistance, helping me search for my driver who seemed to have taken shelter somewhere around the lake. Together, we navigated the rain-soaked surroundings, creating an unspoken bond amidst the showers.

The cost of this mesmerizing shikara experience was a mere reflection of its value: Rs.550 for 1 hour, Rs.800 for 2 hours, and Rs.1050 for 3 hours – a small price for an immersion into the soul of Kashmir.

Later, a change in plans unfolded as my original driver took a day off due to health concerns. Mr. Sameer, my new host, welcomed me with genuine warmth. He treated me to a special lunch in a picturesque restaurant, a feast that mirrored the richness of Kashmir’s hospitality.

Our journey continued as Mr. Sameer took me to the breathtaking Tulip Garden, where the vibrant colors of blooming tulips created a canvas of unmatched beauty. The unexpected change in hosts turned out to be a blessing, offering a seamless continuation of my exploration through the magical landscapes of Srinagar.

As the day unfolded, each moment etched itself into my memory – a shikara ride turned rain-soaked adventure, a gracious host, and the kaleidoscope of experiences that only Kashmir could offer. The journey had just begun, promising more tales of wonder and discovery in the heart of this paradise on Earth.

Shankaracharya Temple and Tulip Garden:

Under the care of a new host, Mr. Sameer, my Srinagar exploration continued. A delectable lunch set the stage for a visit to the sprawling Tulip Garden, Asia’s largest, adorned with tulip bulbs imported from the renowned Keukenhof tulip gardens in Amsterdam. The day concluded at the ancient Shankaracharya Temple, perched atop a hill, offering panoramic views of the city despite the intermittent rain.

Gulmarg Temptation Declined:

With evening setting in, the allure of a houseboat on Nigeen Lake beckoned. However, my gracious host, Mr. Sameer, suggested a detour to Gulmarg. Despite the tempting prospect of exploring the renowned winter sports destination, my eagerness to experience a houseboat for the first time prevailed, leading me to decline the invitation to Gulmarg.


As the rain-soaked shikara ride transformed each droplet into a symphony, my day in Srinagar unfolded as an unexpected blend of elegance and spontaneity. The allure of Dal Lake, the charm of cultural symbols, and the warmth of newfound connections set the stage for what promised to be an unforgettable journey through the heart of Kashmir—a tale that continued to unravel on the tranquil waters of Nigeen Lake, where the magic of houseboats awaited.

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