Life on the Dal Lake

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Vegetable Market
Vegetable Market

The villages around the lake bring in their produce into the early morning market. The goods are mostly bartered.

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Drawing Room of the Houseboat
Drawing Room of the Houseboat
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Dining Room of the Houseboat
Dining Room of the Houseboat
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Situated in the heart of exquisite Srinagar, Dal lake is a veritable paradise – the idly floating house boats and shikaras, the backdrop of mountains and greens, and the cool breeze and floating gardens. Spread over and area of 18kms, this water body supports an ecosystem of many villages connected by narrow waterways.

The lake is inhabited by the Hanji Kashmiris. For the Hanjis the lake is the way of life. So much so that the Hanjis classify themselves according to the boat that they ply and the job that they do on the lake. Some of the classes of Hanjis are - Dunga-Hanji (owners of passenger boats), Haka-Hanji (collectors of wood from water bodies), Bahatchi-Hanji (owners of Bahatch boats), Demb- Hanji (vegetable growers), Gari-Hanji (water-nuts gatherers), Gad-Hanji (fishermen), Mata-Hanji (dealers in wood), Shikara-Hanji (those who ply Shikara boats), House- boat Hanji and so on.

The picturesque houseboats are the most eye catching features on the Dal Lake.  Though primarily designed to be used as homes, nowadays, the owners generally stay in the rear rooms while the front rooms are rented out to tourists. Usually made out of Cedar wood, a houseboat consists of 5-7 rooms consisting of a drawing room, a dinning room, pantry, bedrooms and bathrooms. Due to the increasing number of houseboats and shallowing depth of the lake, the houseboats are kept moored to a single location.