Dadu Aur Madak

Accommodations in Srinigar are for the most part houseboats on Dal Lake. The story says that during the Raj era Kashmir's ruler forbid the British to own land here. Fond of Kashmir's beauty and the cooler climate, the Brits escaped Delhi's heat by building elegant houseboats here. Each have several bedrooms with private baths and lavishly ornate (if not a bit aged) parlors and dining rooms. The setting is quite beautiful although marred by a massive military presence of Indian army. They have maintained an uneasy peace for the past three years, but the majority of the locals do little to hide the fact that they consider themselves to be Pakistani. Most agree, though, that the Army's presence there has benefited the local economy by allowing the return of tourism on which they rely heavily.

The lake abounds with lotus flowers (above) as well as water lilies, and the kingfisher (below) is the state bird.

These shikara boats serve as taxis on the lake.

This fort dominates a hilltop by the lake's edge, and the Jama Masjid Mosque (below) sits nearby at the lakes edge as well. Kashmir's population is predominately Muslim and the call to prayer happens five times a day. The 4:30 am call that blares from the loudspeakers of the town's many Mosques is especially refreshing.

Since you are quite likely to be awake anyway, you may enjoy one of Srinigar's most lively events--the floating vegetable market that takes place every morning at dawn. The majority of the negotiations are barter and little money changes hands. Some dealers, however, come to cater to the foreign visitors that come to witness the proceedings offering Kasmiri spices, especially saffron, and flower seeds like the rare Kasmiri blue poppy.