Monday, July 05, 2010

Life in a House Boat: Part I

Ok Folks! This series of posts is for all our friends who wanted to know about our experience on a house boat on the Dal Lake in Srinagar this summer. To begin with, I, for various reasons did not want to stay in Srinagar. Have lost some good friends there and would not really be able enjoy or relax. Nonetheless, we decided on the house boat option after we heard from another friend who had stayed there with family. In any case, due to the flight timings we would have to spend a night there, so why not the house boat?

Teheran House Boat came recommended from reliable sources as a safe place and so we gave a call to Ghulam, the owner. To his credit, Ghulam monitored my arrival on the mobile and was waiting at the Shankaracharya Ghat to receive us himself. As such we were four hours late since we were stuck in a jam on the Zoji La!

At the Ghat, we got onto a shikara and headed for House Boat Teheran. The staff at the Ghat had loaded all our stuff on the shikara so we just plonked ourselves onto the seats and took off. After about hardly 10mins of paddling down the Dal Lake we reached HB Teheran. It was one elaborate thing with exquisitely carved decorations and ornate furnishings.
The door in front leads to the dining room. The walnut wood table in the centre was a lovely piece. Don't miss the classic old large radio on the left of the door under the vase - no, it did'nt work - no valves available nowadays I guess!

The door next to fridge behind me led into a long and narrow corridor in which there were three rooms with attached toilets and also to stairs leading to the roof of the boat.

We all had to take off our shoes before entering the main part of the house boat. The shoes are all kept on a rack in the front - verandah - of the boat. 'Bari te porar choti rakha chilo' for those who wanted to use some footwear inside the boat. Not required really since the entire boat had wall-to-wall carpetting.
'Josh dekh, babi chobi tul che - tara tari kheye nao!' Of course Josh could not be bothered and had to literally force fed here as well. This is a view of the verandah - a fantastic place to hang out and watch the Dal Lake and the rest of the house boats. As one sits, shikaras with chaps hawking literally everything from eggs, bread, jewellery, soft drinks, hard drinks (yes, and they shout 'hard drinks'!), kashmiri souvenirs, clothes - literally everything!

This guy had a studio on the shikara complete with the Kashmiri dress and plastic flowers. Photos would be delivered in a few hours at your house boat.

This is the front view of Teheran taken from a shikara. Teheran, Mr Ghulam claims, is often requisitioned by the J&K Government for state visits.

For those of my good friends who are wondering what the loo is like, here it is.
Now please do not ask me about the plumbing since I did not ask the owner. I assume that it would be similar to a normal house since the house boats do not sail. They just stay tethered to the shore and thus all facilities including electricity are shore-based. I was scared to ask about the plumbing since if they told me they dump it into the lake, I might not want to stay there any longer!
They had 24hrs running hot water and mixer and handshower et al. Pretty clean stuff.

A word about the Dal Lake. The Dal Lake is one crowded place with over 950 house boats. There must be at least 5000 shikaras on it. The place is buzzing with activity since thankfully, tourism is looking up now. The Shankaracharya Ghat and all the other ghats around the Lake were also busy with day trippers taking joy rides etc. A typical tourist destination.

Post-militancy, Kashmiris seem to be indulging in tourism with a vengeance. I tried to engage the locals in conversation and asked them about the security situation and all were unanimous - some too obviously so - in that there was no trouble and tourism was doing well. The stone pelters it seems avoid the tourist areas since any impact on tourism will have a negative impact on them.

So much for now...more follows.

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  1. WOW!! Awesome... truly! Btw, loved the 'souldier' concept!

  2. Hi Jaideep --it was very pleasing reading yur holiday account the pictures are very tidy -- i cud not see any leh /ladakh pics -- when shall yu add them -- and how do i become one of yur followers -- chandrima

  3. Hi Jaideep,
    Nice to see you enjoy a nice holiday on the Dal Lake and Kargil
    Has the interlocking over the entire Zojilla been completed? I intend drving to Leh next year, look fwd to the input.
    As for the pictures, it is nice to see you really have a keen eye of a four thud shikari!!

  4. Chandrima di, Richa and Rajinder sir -> thanks a ton. keep in touch.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. i am going some time soon to Ghulams. I say buddy....lovely photographs. Debbie...besh young and college eh jamon chhilish tamoni pray lagchhe. Lost weight? Chal C Ya soon. Shuchi

  7. Hi Alpana ma'am and Shuchi,

    thanks for the kind words both of you.

    keep reading.

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