India’s land of lakes and gardensUttarakhand, India
Located in the heart of the Kashmir Valley is India’s top hill station, Srinagar, and its number-one drawcard, the spectacular Dal Lake.
Cradled high in the Himalayas and often referred to as the Switzerland of India – without the chocolate, of course – Srinigar is the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir and is surrounded by mountain peaks, lush green valleys, Mughal-era gardens, glistening lakes and temples galore.
While Srinigar is crisscrossed by tree-lined roads and is is home to bustling bazaars, Sufi shrines and historic forts, it’s best known for Dal Lake. Spread over an impressive 26 square kilometres, it’s the second largest lake in the territory and is aptly named the Lake of Flowers.
Travellers know Dal Lake best for two things: the stationary houseboats moored at its edges and the colourful shikararas (gondola-type rowboats) that ferry people across the water. You can rent a room on one of the ornately carved houseboats or, if you just want to experience the beauty of the lake without committing to a staying on the water, take a shikarara to the floating vegetable market or the ancient temple of Shankaracharya.
Sea legs not all that flash? Visit some of the stunning UNESCO World Heritagelisted gardens. Choose from Nishat Bagh, Shalimar Bagh and Chashme Shahi, all of which are filled with fountains, chinar and pine trees and flowering exotic plants. Shalimar Bash even has a sound and light show every evening between May to October.