Srinagar is an all-time favourite not just for couples but also for kids all ages. Even in mid-June, when most part of the country was reeling under the sweltering heat, Srinagar had the most pleasant weather. The Chinar leaves were on the verge of changing their colour, from green to the mesmerising fiery golden, and the air was as refreshing as ever. With Dal Lake at the centre and the mountains on all sides, Srinagar takes you to another world. It is no wonder why all our Bollywood movies were shot here till not so long ago. From the legendary Silsila to Kashmir ki Kali, Junglee, Jaanwar, Aarzoo, and the list can do on.
The epicenter of this beautiful hamlet is, of course, the Dal Lake. Taking a Shikara ride was top in our itinerary. On reaching Srinagar, we plunged into it. Perhaps, this could be the most relaxing thing to do in Srinagar, best when the sun sets turning the lake into a crimson carpet spread. One can hear the azaan (prayer call) from the far off Hazarat Bal mosque, occasionally breaking the silence. Or else, it is only the sound of the oars hitting the water below. Here in the Dal Lake, one does not have to go shopping. In return the shops come sailing to you. Locals in small boats come sailing to your Shikara with varied wares – from saffron, Kashmiri handicrafts to other knick-knacks. So one can shop while you sail. You save time as well as have company on this long ride. You can also visit other houseboats which serve as floating shopping arcade. What is more, one can also stop by some boat kiosks for some tea, pakoras and hot steaming Maggi.
After a long leisurely ride, it was time for us to check into a houseboat – our accommodation for the night. Well-kept drawing room with photos of earlier guests (most of them being foreigners) and hard bound books all around, it all made for a welcome stay. The bedrooms were huge and looked no less than a master bedroom of any five star hotel. After a scrumptious Kashmiri treat, we sat outside in the veranda, sipping a cup of warm kawa (special Kashimiri drink). With glistening lights from afar and the stillness around, the place resembled nothing but true paradise.
And the best part of the trip to Srinagar was that my two kids loved it!
(The author is the editor of Spiceroute magazine.)