Monday, August 13, 2012

Peaceful moments on Dal Lake- Kashmir

In the moments of peace and silence when you seem to be a trespasser in your own life, I found myself, arrested in my own wandering thoughts instead of struggling to break free, I witnessed life in all its wonderment…

Evening on Dal Lake

Sunlit Mountains in the morning

Flower vendors
I think I got a glimpse of true ‘peace’ on Dal Lake while waiting for sunshine to reach me and it did. It was more than just a few fleeting moments and I am so thankful for the experience. Dal Lake at the foothills of Himalaya is surrounded by the same range on three sides and I was told prior to my recent visit that sunset and sunrise were extremely beautiful on the lake. I checked the sunrise time on my phone and set up my alarm for 5 minutes prior to that but when I woke up, I was disappointed to hear the pitter patter of a thunderstorm. Despite DH’s request that we should go back to sleep, I insisted that we at least we go out to the front porch in the house boat. Everything on the porch was wet but the rain had stopped and a close cloud cover hovered around. After a few minutes DH went back to the comforts of a warm bed but I decided to linger around for a bit longer. Sun had barely lit up the peaks of distant Himalayan Mountains and the valley was yet to be awaked from its slumber, amidst the quiet of the morning a faint sound of the aarti flowed into my consciousness and as I paid attention it became clearer and I realized that it was coming from the Shankaracharya temple situated on the top of the hill right in front of me, about a thousand feet above my surroundings. The prayers must have lasted more than 45 minutes and apart from a few interruptions from our fellow occupants of the boat, who rushed out on the porch eagerly to make sure they didn’t miss the sunrise shot and made an equal eager exit, disappearing back into their rooms to see the cloud cover, things remained calm.

Shankaracharya Temple atop hill


Shikara for the tourists

Sunset captured on Dal
I took a few breaks to capture a few shots in changing lights but mostly focused on the sound that carried me with it. It was a ‘peace and blessing’ that still lingers in my heart and all I have to do is to still my mind to immerse myself in its divinity. It is hard to communicate the calm I felt and the sounds I experienced but the morning pictures might let you in on the secret. It was serenity that pierced into the soul and grounded you into the moment.

It doesn't matter how you went to sleep but what really matters is what you awaken to... Morning on Dal Lake, Kashmir
 Soon, the aarti was over and the distant calm was taken over by the traffic noise on the boulevard along the lake shore and there were breakfast and tea orders to be placed and kids to be tended to and routines of life that actually brought me to that moment demanded their presence back in life. The rest of the day was equally fabulous but those solitary morning moments remain close to my heart.

The lake has self-sufficient system of its own with many houseboat resorts that mainly evolved around late 18th century British visitors that wanted to stay in the valley where the construction of houses was prohibited and circumvented the rule by staying in the anchored house boats. The boats were made with exquisitely carved cedar wood and equipped with facilities keeping in mind the European travelers. The main economy of the Dal Lake system is through tourism in summer months but to an outsider it seems to have a strong backbone that continues sustenance in the cooler months as well.
Post Office on lake

7-11 on shikara

Beautifully carved front Porch

Beautiful all around

Sikara is a small wooden canoe with a canopy on top which is exclusive to this area and are used for commuting passengers from shore to boat along with using them as mobile shops for selling everything from fresh flowers to jewelry to cigarettes…

Ever since my recent visit to Dal Lake, I have been smitten by it and trying to collect information and through that I discovered the major environmental controversies surrounding the tourism and houseboat industry. Pollution in the lake was an imminent problem that I had experienced myself and also while talking to the house boat manager but I haven’t done enough research to make an observation but just that in the true Indian tradition of ‘Atithi Devo Bhav’ (Guests are like Gods), the Dal Lake never spoke to me about its pain and dilemmas but conveyed to its best the serenity that I was seeking from it. Perhaps this warrants another future visit to assess how I can repay for the hospitality she bestowed me with this time around…  


  1. Ooooh! Beautiful pictures! I am sure the place was breathtaking. I will add it to the long list of places I should see in India.

  2. Lovely to read your blog post. When it comes to Srinagar, Dal lake is one of the most visited tourist destination there. The Lake is surrounded by majestic mountains on one side and offers activities such as Shikara ride and floating boat shops. Also, click here to know more about Srinagar tourism.