We started our time in Srinagar on one of the Gurkha group of houseboats on the smaller Nadin Lake. This was chosen because it’s a little further away from the centre of town and the hustle and bustle of Dal Lake – and it has less hawkers.
To get to our house boat we had to take one of the colourful ‘shikaras’ across the lake from a road side boat ramp.
Our houseboat, although in need of some upkeep, was, as they all are, beautifully decorated in carved cedar.
The Gurkha Houseboats are moored in a stunning setting looking across the lake to the misty Karakorum Mountain Range.
Our programme for the afternoon was for a city sightseeing tour but, as my knee was playing up a bit after the flight and ‘shikara’ ride, I decided to stay on the boat and enjoy the wonderful ambience and tranquillity of the lake. We would have both enjoyed that but D’s request to have a quiet afternoon filming the scenery of this quiet lake went unheeded. In fact I don’t think his request registered at all with our guide, a gentleman called Mr B; a loud, blustery, bombastic, self-opinionated fellow who could not, or would not, listen to anybody. He pressed all the wrong buttons for me but D gave in graciously and went along with the ‘program as planned.’ He would at least enjoy the company of our driver – a quietly spoken, gentle fellow – a delight to be with. It was a pity that he wasn’t our guide! He knew how to listen to our needs.
So while D went back across the lake to be shown some shrines, mosques and a fort, I enjoyed exploring the houseboat and learned about the traditional Kashmiri arts and crafts that were used to decorate the rooms of the houseboat.
The lounge and dining room were an eclectic mix of various crafts; woven rugs and fabrics; laquered carved woodwork; ‘papier mache’ laquerwork and Kashmiri traditional embroidery using simple chain stitching of various floral motifs.
Woven fabric used on chairs and lounge in main lounge room.
Chain stitched embroidered floor rug.
Laquered wood carving in room dividers – again making use of a floral motif.
Papier mache laquer ware room divider and bowl.
Detail of traditional chain stitch embroidery on a cushion.
The bed looked very comfortable with its magnificently carved head board and embroidered cover.
Hand embroidered flower motifs decorated the bedspread, chairs and curtains.
The beautifully carved chair looked inviting but there was a much more inviting lounge to relax on out on the deck.
I relaxed on the deck watching various small craft glide by while I sipped a delicious ginger and cardamom spiced tea.
No-one was in a hurry – and I wasn’t going anywhere. This really was ‘paradise’ – so relaxing and peaceful.
As the afternoon wore on, the mist gradually rose revealing the mountains beyond the lake.
As dusk fell over the lake, D finally returned to the houseboat. I was really relaxed – he was not!
We were served a very simple traditional Indian dinner by our delightful houseboat man, Majid. He and the cook had made some concession to my ‘food needs’ by cutting back on the number and ‘heat’ of the spices used. But they made D a couple of full strength Indian dishes. To wash it all down we drank Kashmiri cinnamon tea – it’s so delicious. To make it Majid used a mortar and pestle to grind up a little Kashmir tea, cinnamon, cardamom, almond and or hazelnuts and a little saffron. This he infused in boiling water, strained and served in a pink plastic thermos along with a silver sugar bowl. He served a couple of apples for our desert.
It had been a long day and we fell thankfully into bed. And when Majid had finished his housekeeping chores, he too went to bed – on a mat on the lounge room floor – a long way from his family and children whom he missed so much.
JT for ‘jtdytravels’
Photography © JT of ‘jtdytravels
More of our travels photos on flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels