During my solo travel in Jammu and Kashmir, a budget-friendly stay in a houseboat on Dal Lake was one of the unique experiences. It was safe and comfortable staying two nights at a traditional Shamus Maqbool Houseboat in Srinagar. It gave me the chance to know better the local lifestyle on Dal Lake and houseboat life. Moreover, I got more time to explore all top things while cruising around on the Dal Lake by shikara or Kashmiri boat.
The stunning Dal Lake is the top attractions in Srinagar, India. Many luxury hotels are also located nearby this lake. However, to enjoy a scenic journey to Srinagar Dal Lake at least one night stay in a floating houseboat will give you a relaxing holiday and slow travel experiences. I was surprised to see the Srinagar houseboat rates even in a high season. It is super inexpensive. You’ll love the touch of royalty, and the hospitality is remarkable. Moreover, it is all possible on a budget.
In between the month of March and May, the temperature is moderate, not excessive cold in Srinagar. This is the best time to visit Dal Lake and for staying in any houseboats. Dal Lake on Boulevard road is 9 km away from Srinagar and easily reachable by taxi, public city bus. According to the gate or ghat number you’ve to take a shikara to reach your pre-booked houseboat. Many houseboats also provide free airport shuttle services.
Table of Contents
- 1 How is it to Stay in a Houseboat on Dal Lake in Srinagar?
- 2 Top Things to Do in Srinagar Houseboat and Dal Lake
- 3 Alleppey Houseboat or Dal Lake Houseboat?
- 4 Are You On Pinterest? Click To Save These For Later Read!
How is it to Stay in a Houseboat on Dal Lake in Srinagar?
Beautiful houseboats on Dal Lake are not less than any luxury hotel. In a real sense, they are floating palaces of Srinagar. Traditional deluxe to budget houseboats permanently anchored on Dal Lake. Dal Lake houseboats are all fixed and don’t move like Alleppey houseboats. Every houseboat has a small boat or shikara for guests’ transportation. You can anytime take a boat ride to explore around on Dal while staying in a houseboat.
Beautiful Interior of the budget-friendly Shamus Maqbool Houseboat
Relaxing cruise trip on the Dal Lake
Remember, mostly budget houseboats are located a bit inside of the lake, and deluxe houseboats are all on the front side of the lake, very close to the Boulevard road.
Dal Lake Houseboat Review – Shamus Maqbool Houseboat
Shamus Maqbool Houseboat is just 16 km away from Srinagar airport and located in gate number 1. They have the airport shuttle service and free parking for their guests. Breakfast and Wi-Fi are complimentary. Many local markets and restaurants, Pari Mahal, Nehru Park, are very close to the houseboat. The Shamus Maqbool Houseboat check-in started from 12:00 AM and check-out at 10 AM.
Shamus Maqbool Houseboat on Dal Lake
This houseboat has three living rooms, and every room is large enough and perfect for a family to stay with private bathrooms. The room types are a double room with a private bathroom, budget double room, and a family cabin on a boat. The attached dining and sitting area are common for all and nicely decorated and well-furnished in a Kashmiri style. There is also one balcony with the lake view. It’s almost like staying in a house but on water.
The attached dining and sitting area of the Shamus Maqbool Houseboat
Dining room of the houseboat
Kashmiri pink rose tree in the houseboat
Kitchen-boat is there for the housekeeper to stay. The housekeeper usually takes care of the houseboat and also guests. The houseboat owner also does visit and sometimes stay with family for some days.
Houseboat Amenities and Hospitality
I stayed alone and safely at Shamus Maqbool Houseboat on a budget. I liked the hospitality, the traditional interior and the wood carving of the houseboat. The entire houseboat was tidy and clean. The houseboat keeper and owner both were helpful and cooperative, and the service was excellent. It just cost me 42 USD including breakfast and dinner for two nights. I paid extra for arranging two days shikara ride and fantastic cruise trip along Dal Lake.
The room type was the double comfort one with a private bathroom. It had all the standard amenities and TV as well. There was no AC and had two cozy beds for four persons. It is also possible to enjoy the Dal view from the room windows.
Cozy bed of the Double Comfort Room
The food was served from the houseboat Shamus Maqbool kitchen and cooked by the housekeeper. You can order food according to your choice. Kashmiri food is good for non-veg lovers. Plain rice with lamb meat is the most common local dish. I had fresh Dal Lake fish curry with rice and vegetables for dinner and breakfast with Girda, a kind of Kashmiri Tandoori roti with butter, boiled egg, and milk tea.
The first day I had lunch with Kashmiri Wazwan for the first time from Kareema Restaurant in Srinagar. Next day with potato French fries and tasty carrot chutney from the mobile café on Dal Lake. Yes, not a healthy diet at all but I liked the taste of Kashmiri pakodas, and rotis.
Kashmiri potato fries with chutney
Top Things to Do in Srinagar Houseboat and Dal Lake
My last two days in Srinagar I kept for all houseboat and Dal Lake. It was fascinating to stay on the water and observe the mesmerizing beauty of Dal in every hour from dawn to dusk. Many top Srinagar attractions are also close to many houseboats. Many famous Mughal gardens, Nehru Park, floating markets are possible to explore by shikara. Undoubtedly, a shikara ride is the best way to enjoy the extreme beauty of Dal Lake. Also, almost all top Srinagar sightseeing attractions are possible to explore from Dal Lake by boat.
Peaceful landscape of Dal Lake
I enjoyed watching the water reflection beauty of the mountains from the balcony of Shamus Maqbool Houseboat on Dal Lake. It was also nice to see many small boats and shikaras riding close to the houseboat on the pretty water of Dal.
Dal Lake view from the balcony of the houseboat
Even without going anywhere, you’ll love your relaxing time while sitting in a balcony of the houseboat. I enjoyed chit-chats with the boat owner and was a great way to know a lot more about the local lifestyle. Many merchants from the boat do offer to buy many Kashmiri products from flower seed to jewelry, shawls, dry fruits, souvenirs. If you’ve no plan to visit any floating markets, you can shop even from the houseboat.
Two days completely I enjoyed riding on a boat and visiting some popular attractions like picturesque island Char Chinar, Kabutar Khana, the floating gardens of the four colored water lily, Nehru Park, and Gulshan Books Kashmir. There is some sports cruise on Dal Lake, and water surfing was fun. I also enjoyed shopping from the Meena Bazar of Dal. Fishing is also a top recreation on Dal Lake and a source of income for many Kashmiris.
Taking a small boat ride to the floating vegetable markets on Dal Lake was the most exciting thing to do on Dal Lake in Srinagar. The beauty of the Dal Lake just before sunrise was amazing. It was right to stay in a houseboat and was possible to reach there so early morning. Locals sell their own produced organic vegetables on boats in the floating market. It is also possible to get flower shikara to take beautiful photos with many colorful flowers.
When you’re in Dal you can’t keep your camera inside; you got to be all-time ready to click a lot of the water reflections with the ranges of beautiful Zabarwan mountains. No way to refuse to admire the spectacular landscape beauty of the Dal Lake.
Ride on shikara on Dal
The picturesque island Char Chinari
Alleppey Houseboat or Dal Lake Houseboat?
After staying in Alleppey and Dal Lake budget houseboats, I can say Alleppey houseboats are overrated and not for every traveler where anyone can afford even a luxury stay on Dal Lake houseboat.
During offseason, I spent 95 USD per night for my budget houseboat cruise on Alleppey backwaters in Kerala. Alleppey houseboats rates are too high in a peak season, but Dal Lake houseboats are almost the same, not overrated even in a peak season. You can expect a deluxe houseboat stay on Dal Lake for two nights by spending an average of 100 USD.
The Dal Lake houseboats decoration and interior is eye-catching, and you can’t expect that on a budget in Alleppey houseboats. The beauty of the largest Vembanad Lake is stunning but the breathtaking landscape beauty of Dal Lake unbeatable in all ways.
However, the taste of Keralan food was merely the best than Kashmiri food. You’ll find many varieties in Keralan food even in a budget houseboat. Moreover, the food is not only delicious but also healthy, not oily, and salty.
Kerala backwaters tour became too popular among tourists, and so they became too demanding and asked a high price, and the quality not always maintained. However, in Jammu and Kashmir tourists are less due to political unrest. You can still enjoy a budget-friendly stay in any houseboat or cruising around on the Dal Lake.
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Disclaimer: My Shamus Maqbool Houseboat review based on my two nights stay here. Every opinion is entirely my own.
Have you stayed in any houseboat? Share your top things to do in Srinagar on Dal Lake.