For an idyllic stay, soothing and out-of-world experience, houseboats in Kashmir are just one stop. Moored in the snail-paced waters of Dal Lake, what makes stay in a houseboat a lifetime experience in open sky in the night, mountains and hills from three sides and backwaters with trees on another side. 


Houseboat in world famous Dal Lake, Srinagar. Pic Credit: Sameer Rashid

All-wood and cedar panelled houseboats are jewels of Kashmir. Europeans and other western countries’ tourists prefer to live in houseboats to experience crisscrossing shikaras selling fresh vegetables and flowers from the floating gardens of the lake. Tea on terrace and sunbathing with birds chirping around makes the houseboat life a fairy tale experience. 


Kashmir offers multi-crore houseboats where furniture and interiors are meticulously designed by woodcarvers. Expensive walnut wood decorates interiors and fine artwork lifts the surroundings to a different level. From Pinjarikari to khatamband, a houseboat exposes tourists to rare wood art practised in Kashmir for centuries now.


Each houseboat moored in the Dal Lake have decorated and finely designed balconies facing the lake. There is no land route to these houseboats except shikaras. Life in these wooden boats takes one away from mechanised and noise-filled cities. For bird watchers, houseboat stay is best to understand water birds’ lifestyle.


Many tourists are attracted to Srinagar by the charm of staying in a houseboat, which provides the unique experience of living on the water.


Around 1200 houseboats are anchored in Srinagar’s Dal lake, Nageen lake and Jhelum river with breathtaking scenic beauty in the backdrop. 


A houseboat offers life of a five-star hotel with multiple washrooms, dining spaces and terrace tea spaces, canopied ones too. Bed rooms are nicely decked up with fresh flowers by the bedside. 


Like hotels, houseboats vary in degree of luxury and have been accordingly graded by the Department of Tourism. A luxury houseboat, like a luxury hotel, has fine furniture, good carpets and modern bathroom fittings, while the ‘D category’ (the lowest category) of houseboats, like low-budget hotels, is sparsely furnished. 


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