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How to reach Dal Lake

It lies to the centre of Srinagar city. Dalgate spot on Jammu Srinagar highway is the entrance of of Dal lake.

Dal Lake is famous for:

Second largest lake in J&K, water boating, Skiing in winter, fauna and flora variety, char chinari, boulvard road view.

Know about Dal Lake

Dal is a lake in Srinagar (Dal Lake is a misnomer as Dal in Kashmiri means lake), 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". The lake covers an area of 18 square kilometres and is part of a natural wetland which covers 21.1 square kilometres, including its floating gardens. The floating gardens, known as "Rad" in Kashmiri, blossom with lotus flowers during July and August.

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The shore line of the lake, is about 15.5 kilometres, 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 shikaras. During the winter season, the temperature sometimes reaches −11 °C, freezing the lake.

 

The lake covers an area of 18 square kilometres and is part of a natural wetland which covers 21.1 square kilometres, including its floating gardens. The floating gardens, known as "Rad" in Kashmiri, blossom with lotus flowers during July and August. The wetland is divided by causeways into four basins; GagribalLokut DalBod Dal and Nigeen (although Nagin is also considered as an independent lake). Lokut-dal and Bod-dal each have an island in the centre, known as Rup Lank (Char Chinari) and Sona Lank respectively.

At present, the Dal 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 are being made by the Government of India to restore the lake to its original splendour.
Dal is mentioned as Mahasarit  in ancient Sanskrit texts. Ancient history records mention that a village named Isabar to the east of Dal was the residence of goddess Durga. This place was known as Sureshwari on the bank of the lake, which was sourced by a spring called the Satadhara.

During the Mughal period, the Mughal rulers of India designated Kashmir, Srinagar in particular, as their summer resort. They developed the precincts of the Dal in Srinagar with sprawling Mughal-type gardens and pavilions as pleasure resorts to enjoy the salubrious cool climate. After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, which led to the disintegration of the Mughal Empire, Pashtun tribes in the area around the lake and city increased, and the Afghan Durrani Empire ruled the city for several decades. In 1814 a significant part of the Kashmir valley, including Srinagar, was annexed from the Afghans by Raja Ranjit Singh to his kingdom, and the Sikhs grew in influence in the region for 27 years.

During the Dogra Raj, Srinagar became the capital of Dogra dynasty, attracted by the cool climate of the Kashmir valley, amidst the back drop of the majestic snow covered Himalayan ranges. The lake precincts experience temperatures in the range of 1–11 °C during winter and 12–30 °C (54–86 °F) during the summer season. The lake freezes when temperatures drop to about −11 °C during severe winter. Although the Dogra Maharaja of Kashmir restricted the building of houses in the valley, the British circumvented this rule by commissioning lavish houseboats to be built on the Dal. The houseboats have been referred to as, "each one a little piece of England afloat on Dal."

After the independence of India, the Kashmiri Hanji people have built, owned and maintained these houseboats, cultivating floating gardens and producing commodities for the market, making them the centre of their livelihoods. The houseboats, closely associated with Dal also provide accommodation in Srinagar. Following the Mughal, Afghan, Sikh and Dogra rule, the place has earned the epithet, "Jewel in the crown of Kashmir".

The lake is popular as a visitor attraction and a summer resort. Fisheries and the harvesting of food and fodder plants are also important on Dal. Weeds from the lake are extracted and converted into compost for the gardens. It also serves as a flood lung of the Jhelum River. Swimming, boating, snow skiing (particularly when the lake is frozen during the severe winter), and canoeing are amongst some of the water sports activities practised on 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 Nigeen 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.

  • Char Chinar Island

A famous landmark in Srinagar is an island on Dal where four Chinar (Platanus orientalis) trees stand, named "Char Chinar". Char in Hindi and Urdu means four.

  • Nagin Lake

Nagin Lake, though sometimes referred to as a separate lake, is actually part of Dal, being linked through a causeway which permits only bikers and walkers to enter the lake precincts. The caseway carries the water supply pipeline to the Srinagar city in the east. The lake is bounded by the Shankaracharya hill (Takht-e-Suleiman) on the south and Hari Parbat on the west and is located at the foot of the Zabarwan hills. Willow and poplar trees flank the edges of the lake.

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How to reach Dal Lake

It lies to the centre of Srinagar city. Dalgate spot on Jammu Srinagar highway is the entrance of of Dal lake.

Dal Lake is famous for:

Second largest lake in J&K, water boating, Skiing in winter, fauna and flora variety, char chinari, boulvard road view.

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