Dal Lake in Srinagar

24 Jun

Reached Srinagar and thought we’d been on the run continuously for over 6 days, it was about time we caught up with some rest. We knew we had gained a lot of ground but it was important to maintain momentum. Kargil, Leh and Manali were up next and we knew the terrain wasn’t going to be very kind to us.

We parked our car close to Dal Lake and started negotiating with ferrymen and houseboat-wallas. A lot of them wanted to purely milk us – if you know what I mean.

All this while, an interesting character with a few grey hair was watching us closely but said nothing. We moved towards him and started talking. His name was Rahim Chacha and we quickly briefed him on what we needed – a houseboat to ourselves for four hours, some lovely kashmiri lunch a ferry ride to the houseboat.

He said he knew just the place for us and before we knew it, we were in his shikara ferrying to our houseboat. At the houseboat, we were welcomed by Mohammed Sahab who introduced himself as the owner of the houseboat. We exchanged pleasantries, had a few hearty laughs and talked about the situation in Srinagar.

We were welcomed onto the houseboat with a steaming cup of Kawa. Kawa – traditional green tea with spices and almond, is consumed all through the day in the chilled winter climate of Kashmir.

Sameer disappeared to catch up on some sleep, Ratheesh whisked Rahim Chacha away with his ferry to get a haircut and I got interacting with our fans on facebook thanks to my ever charming Apple Macbook Pro powered by Tata Photon Plus, taking and editing pictures with our Nikon D60 and writing about our experience.

The houseboat was a treat in itself – two bedrooms with attached bathrooms that flaunted bath tubs, a living room, a dining room and a balcony kinda sit-out.

At about 12:00 hrs, we were served Wazwan. Wazwan is a multi-course meal in the Kashmiri tradition. It was one of our core objectives to have Wazwan when we hit Srinagar. Shafi – our butler meticulously served us the following:

  • Kabab (Minced meat roasted on skewers over hot coals)
  • Tabak Maaz (Ribs of lamb simmered in yogurt till tender, then fried)
  • Rista (Meatballs in a fiery red gravy)
  • Lahabi Kabab (Flattened mutton kababs cooked in yogurt)
  • Doudha Ras (Mutton cooked in sweet milk gravy)
  • Rogan Josh (Tender lamb cooked with Kashmiri spices)
  • Gushtaba (A velvety textured meatball in white yogurt gravy,a specialty)

What touched us about Srinagar was it’s hospitality. Both Raheem Bhai and Mohammed Sahab were extremely humble, good hearted with a smile on their face. Shafi – explained each and every dish of Wazwan to us while he served us and made sure we thoroughly enjoyed our meal.

Needless to say, the beauty of Srinagar left us asking for more. But then we also had a record to break. Enjoy the pictures.

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