Srinagar

India Srinagar Dal Lake private Shikara
Srinagar
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Taxis leave from the bus stand at 2pm in Kargil, all at once. Book a seat in the morning for the 7 hour long ride, through the mountains and the impressive Zoji La pass, where the road litteraly winds down the moutain, for a 700m incline, choked with cars, motorcycles and, of course, trucks.
The main attraction in Srinagar is the Dal Lake, and its many houseboats, which seem to be coming from another age. The choice is so big that picking one to stay at turns out to be tricky. My thought is, you’re not staying so long, and they all offer the same service, so don’t spend too much time choosing.

We were advised to stay at the Chachoo palace, which is actually a hotel on the bank of the lake, with view on the houseboats. We thought it was quite a good thing, letting you free of your moves, as you rapidly feel a bit stuck on the boats, relying on the owner’s good will to fetch you a shikara (Venice like gondola) to get back on land.

And, as the place was full on the first night, the owner organized a night in a houseboat for us, bargaining a friendly price, so we got the houseboat experience.

Srinagar turns out to be quite the good place to rest at the end of your trip, getting up late and enjoying the peaceful view on your houseboat’s frontdeck.

Other attractions are the Mughal gardens, especially the Nishat Bagh, with a panoramic view on the lake. Don’t try to walk there, it’s further away than it looks like on the map (7.5km). Grab any bus along the lake bank, it most probably will take you there.

And the Old City, with the Jama Masjid, the Naqshband Sahib, overlooking the Hari Parbat fort (military owned), and the most impressive all-wooden 750-year old Shah-i-Hamadan Masjid.

Also, you can hire a tuk-tuk to go up the Shankaracharya Hill, where a little temple is, and admire the view on Srinagar and the lake. But you’ll need your ID, and you can’t take your camera nor any other electronic equipment, as guards ask you to leave them at a checkpoint.

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