About Dal Lake
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.
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.