I was shocked to see Dal bereft of tourists, shrouded in a pall of ghostly silence (scroll down to the last photograph, if you don’t believe me!), during my recent passage through the city while we were on our way to Ladakh to set the record for the #HighestBloggerMeet (courtesy #ScoutMyTrip and #OYORooms).

In the wake of the ongoing disturbance in Srinagar and Kashmir Valley, I bring you this photo essay with a hope that peace returns here and this ‘Paradise on Earth’ once again goes back to being that. I hope the tourists return here, and soon!

By the way, you may check out HERE how much fun we have had in Kashmir as a family!

Romancing India’s Best-Loved Lake – Dal Lake

‘Dal’ in Kashmiri means ‘lake’. So, to call it ‘Dal Lake’ is a redundancy and an oft-repeated error. It is a huge lake with a perimeter of 15.5 km (9.6 miles). This lake was once a sweetheart of Bollywood producers and actors alike. Little wonder it featured in scores of romantic Bollywood films from mid to late twentieth century. That popularity earned it the sobriquet – Srinagar’s Jewel. You can call it the best-loved lake of India!

During my numerous visits to Srinagar, and courtesy having done some assignments with J&K Tourism, I have been fortunate to have had a gazillion opportunities to photograph this jewel. While every visitor to Srinagar tries and captures the multitude of Dal’s moods, I have been singularly blessed to have the opportunity to shoot it from some of the spots where tourists are not allowed with a camera, or not allowed at all.

My photo essay attempts to give some glimpses of the romance Dal is capable of evoking. I have shot many of these frames from the vantage points of restricted access.

Phase-I

  • Here’s a calm manifestation of Dal with parked ‘Shikaras‘ (paddled taxi boats). These unique boats are synonymous with Dal.Romancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake
  • A phiren-clad boatman (phiren: a loose, warm gown) rows a Shikara while the sun shines brightly.Romancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake
  • Another distinctive feature of the Dal is the moored houseboats that offer luxury accommodation for the tourists. These houseboats are typically 30×5 metres in size (average). They come fitted with varying degrees of luxury and are graded like hotels.Romancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake
  • Each houseboat has its own shikara to ferry the resident guests around Dal. Here’s a tourist making his way back to his houseboat.Romancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake
  • In good old days, the rowing teams used to hone their skills here.Romancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake
  • The colourful side of DalRomancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake
  • The fountains in Dal creating their own rainbows. The white balloon on the left of the frame is the Kashmir Eye – J&K Tourism’s attempt to provide a gorgeous aerial view of this gem.

Phase-II

Romancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake

  • An uninterrupted view of the lake from Chashme-shahi (The Royal Springs)Romancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake
  • Here are 3 different views of Dal from Hari Parbat – a Mughal Fort created by Emperor Akbar in 1590 CE. Currently, the army is stationed here and the tourists are not allowed.Romancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake Romancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake Romancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake
  • A blue-hour view of Dal from Nehru Park, one of the most-favoured spots of tourists.Romancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake
  • Few glimpses of the early morning wholesale vegetable market. The traders sell their wares by the shikara-loads here and the buyers sell these vegetables to the consumers in and around Srinagar.Romancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake Romancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake Romancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake
  • Dal is an important source of fish and water plants for the locals. Here’s a lady stacking up her shikara with some of the edible water plants.Romancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake
  • Dal, as seen from the infinity pool of Hotel Taj VivantaRomancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake
  • Have a look at these two images. You do not realise the extent of houseboat clutter that exists here unless you look at it from Shankaracharya hill. Here, cameras are not allowed.

Phase-III

Romancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake Romancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake

  • 3 images of the lake shot at varying heights from the Kashmir Eye. Isn’t it a beauty?Romancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake Romancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake Romancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake
  • Every once in a while, even nature adds its own cherry-topping to this idyllic loch. Here’s a double-rainbow adorning this gem!Romancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake
  • And here’s the image that inspired me to create this photo essay. A mute, helpless witness that has seen the evil forces drive away the lifeline of the city – tourism. I shot this image with my mobile phone as I did not have the heart to pull out my camera seeing this morose sight.Romancing India's Best Loved Lake - Dal Lake

Going through this photo essay, if you feel what I felt, kindly share it with others who may be influential enough in helping bring back sanity to this paradise! Thanks for feeling my feel!

In case it interests you, HERE’S my earlier account of this paradise.
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