dal lake

Dal is a lake in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. The urban lake, which is the second largest in the state, is integral to tourism and recreation in Kashmir and is named the "Jewel in the crown of Kashmir "or" Srinagar's Jewel.

Dal Lake – A Lake Made Of Lakes

dal lake

is, initially, one of the most confusing parts of Srinagar for it’s not really one lake at all, but three.

Dal Lake

is a lake in Srinagar is the urban lake, which is the second largest in the state, is integral to tourism and recreation in Kashmir and is named the “Jewel in the crown of Kashmir” or “Srinagar’s Jewel”.The lake is also an important source for commercial operations in fishing and water plant harvesting. The shore line of the lake, is about 15.5 kilometres (9.6 mi), is encompassed by a boulevard lined with Mughal era gardens, parks, houseboats and hotels. Scenic views of the lake can be witnessed from the shore line Mughal gardens, such as Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh built during the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir and from houseboats cruising along the lake in the colourful dal lake

covers an area of 18 square kilometres (6.9 sq mi) and is part of a natural wetland which covers 21.1 square kilometres (8.1 sq mi), including its floating gardens. At present, the

Dal Lake

and its Mughal gardens, Shalimar Bagh and the Nishat Bagh on its periphery are undergoing intensive restoration measures to fully address the serious eutrophication problems experienced by the lake. Massive investments of approximately US$275 million (₹ 11 billion) are being made by the Government of India to restore the lake to its original splendour.

The ecosystem of

Dal Lake

is ecologically rich in macrophytes, submerged macrophytes, floating macrophytes and phytoplankton. Macrophyte flora recorded in the lake’s aquatic and marshland environment consists of 117 species, belonging to 69 genera and 42 families. The lake is noted in particular for its Nelumbo nucifera (lotus flowers) which bloom in July and August. The prolific growth of Ceratophyllum demersum in the eutrophic zones has been reported, with Myriophyllum spicatum and Potemogetton lucens cited as dominant species. Other macrophytes discerned in different zones of the lake include Typho angustata, Phragmites australis, Myriophyllum, Sparganium evectum and Myriophyllum verticillatum, which contribute to the production of macrophites. The rooted variety of the floating leaf type consists of Neelambium nucifera, Nymphaea alba, N.Tertagonia, N.Candida, Nymphoides peltatum, Salvinia natans, Hydrocharis dubia, Nymphaea sp. and Potamogeton natans, all of which occupy 29.2% of the lake.Phytoplanktons include Navicula radiosa, Nitzschia accicularis, Fragilaria crotonensis, Diatoma elongatum, Scenedesmus bijuga, Pediastrum duplex, Tetraedron minimum, Microcystis aeruginosa and Merismopedia elegans.

Houseboats

The largest group of houseboats lies along the western edge of the lake near the lakeside boulevard, towards Dal gate. They are lined in looping rows and around small islands. Several hotels can also be found on flat islands in the lake. Beyond the houseboats to the northwest are the floating gardens.

Attractions Around Dal Lake

There are three islands in the lake; three real islands anyway, there are other sorts of islands joined by causeways. Around the lake are many of Srinagar’s most interesting sights, in particular the pleasant Mughal gardens.

dal lake

is also flanked by hills, particularly along its east bank. The Shankaracharya hill provides a very fine view over the lake.The lake has numerous sites and places of interest, many of which are important to the cultural heritage of Srinagar. Aside from the Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh, some of the other places frequented by tourists are the Shankaracharya temple, the Hari Parbat, the Nagin Lake, the Chashme Shahi, the Hazratbal Shrine, and the Mazar-e-Shura cemetery containing the graves of famous Mughal-era poets. Visitors and native alike also enjoy relaxing on the water in a houseboat or a shikara boat, often called “the Gondola of Kashmir”.

Have A Swim!

The waters of

dal lake

are amazingly clear. Nevertheless one is advised not to go swimming in the

dal lake

although the swimming houseboats, equipped with diving boards and chutes, are moored in a deeper part of the lake, ‘upstream’ from the concentration of houseboats. Swimming here can be quite refreshing, especially on a hot afternoon. One will undoubtedly be joined by a number of Indians, including Hindu women who swim in their saris.

Floating Gardens

The lake is probably at its most beautiful when the lotus flowers bloom in July and August. The floating gardens, known as “Rad” in Kashmiri, are one of the stranger aspects of

dal lake

. They’re composed of matted vegetation and earth, which are cut away from the lake bottom and towed to a convenient location where they are moored. Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Melons all grow amazingly well in these gardens, if one look underneath one can see that they do literally float on the

dal lake

. One can also approach the floating gardens by road; the boulevard runs along the eastern edge of the lake, providing fine views all the way.

One will often see weeds being pulled up out of the lake – this serves a double purpose. The lake waterways are kept clear and the weeds are rotted until they form excellent compost for the gardens. The shallowness of the lake and its heavy growth of water weeds is probably the main reason there are so very few powered boats on the water.

Dal Lake

would be nowhere near as pleasant if there were powerboats rushing back and forth across its tranquil surface.

Shikaras

There are many tours around the lake but by far the best way to see it is to take a Shikara for a day and do a circuit of the Mughal gardens. At a reasonable price, there’s hardly any other lazier and more pleasurable way of getting into the swing of Srinagar .