Dal lake is perhaps one of the most famous and scenic lakes in all of India. Situated in Srinagar in Kashmir, Dal Lake stretches to a length of around 7 kms with a width of 3.5 kms. Since Moghul times Dal Lake has been an attraction because of its beauty and aptly named ‘Jewel in the crown of Kashmir’
As seen in many Bollywood films, the Dal Lake is pristine with floating gardens, house boats and shikaras. Around 30 percent of the lake is covered with lotus plants. The Dal Lake makes Srinagar a popular tourist spot. Since the British times, the Houseboats are of immense tourist attraction. These houseboats are large boats with luxurious rooms and sprawling decks for sunbathing. These boats are usually anchored on the shores. The shikaras or the small boats form the means of transportation to the houseboats and islands and also of smaller commercial activities on the lake. They are also popular for taking spending leisure time and taking a boat ride on among the gardens.
Commercial activities on Dal Lake
Tourism is of course the biggest commercial activity. The lake is surrounded by picturesque boulevards. The other attractions at the lake include the island with four Cedars, named Char Chinar. The Shalimar gardens along the lake and the smaller Nagin Lake also attracts many tourists.
For religious travellers the Hazratbal shrine is a much frequented place, as also the Shankaracharya Temple.
The floating gardens are made out of earth with matted roots but they are not anchored to the bottom of the lake. They are used for growing vegetables like cucumbers and others that need a lot of water. The water of Dal Lake being nutrient-rich, plants thrive on it.
Problems with Dal Lake
Pollution from the sewers and other dumps has become a problem for the lake over the last few decades but is being met successfully.
Eutrophication is the other big problem because of the high nutrients found in the water. The excessive growth of plants and algae on the surface form a green cover and the water surface gets hidden. This too is being dealt with especially from the large investment made by the government of India for the restoration of the lake.
Dal Lake is an important lake not just for its beauty but also from a religious point of view for many Indians, its shores supposed to be the residence of Goddess Durga.