Small boat or popularly known as Shikara ride is one of the most enjoying experience for tourists visiting Srinagar. You can get Shikara from various locations around Dal Lake. By the side of the lake the rate chart is displayed. Usually it will be a two hour ride which is enough and it will cost you Rs 800 ( Rs 400 per hour ).
Do not board a Shikara at the very entrance of the Dal lake, this is a channel type so it will take more time to reach open water.
Construction cost of one Shikara is almost one lakh and life of one Shikara is nearly 20 years.
Dal lake is a market itself , during your cruise on Shikara the boat man will offer you various other services offered by different vendors. You can take photo with traditional Kashmir dress and for this different boat man with all accessories are available, in between the lake they can take your photo and those photos will be delivered at your hotel or houseboat. Charges are bit higher side where they will be insisting you to take minimum 3 photos each costing Rs 150/- .
Shikara owner ( boatman )
Per Day on average they earn Rs 2000 based on the number of rides they take. The business is for four months starting from April to July. Other than the peak tourist seasons in summer Shikara owners join other business like trekking.
Floating garden in Dal lake
Villages by the side of Dal lake grows vegetables. Here water level is low and you can see various types of vegetables on the small branches while travelling on the Shikara. There are shops selling traditional Kashmiri dress and shawls. These shops are on water and openings are towards lake side.
This is a small island in Dal lake and you can reach here by Shikara. A Park is developed here. Your Shikara man will offer you to visit this place.
While on Shikara you can see flower vendors offering you flower bokeh and seeds of flowers , you can buy all these while on Shikara. Fishing is another enjoyment here, several locals use boat to fish in this lake. You can see several birds inside and outside the lake. After July 15th Lotus and Lilly flower can be seen in the lake. Lotus will available for two months and Lilly will remain for three months.
There will be Shikaras selling Keshar ( from Pampore ), chips, biscuits etc. A peaceful Shikara ride can be enjoyed at Nagina Lake. Dal Lake area remains crowded during tourist seasons.
You can also enjoy shikara cruise at Manasbal lake. ( 28 KM from Srinagar )
During summer seasons just before evening is the best time for Shikara ride. All most all tourist visiting Srinagar go for Shikara ride.