“Dal” is a wonderful urban lake in the district of Srinagar of Jammu and Kashmir. It is the second largest lake in J&K after Wular Lake. It is the most popular and most visited place by the locals and tourists in Srinagar. This crystalline lake is crucial for tourism and recreational activities in the valley. Rightly so, people call it the “Lake of Flowers,” “the Jewel in the Crown of Kashmir,” or “Srinagar’s Jewel.” The lake is also crucial for businesses like fishing and collecting water plants.

Dal Lake in Winter is a winter wonderland. The lake gets frozen, and the shikara ride through this frozen lake is a unique winter experience to Kashmir.

The lake spreads across 18 square kilometers. It is part of a wetland that extends over 21.1 square kilometers, inclusive of its attractive floating gardens. These gardens spoken as “Rad” in Kashmiri language, burst into a buoyant display of lotus flowers in July and August. 

The lake’s shore, stretching about 15.5 kilometers, is surrounded by a well-maintained pathway adorned with Mughal gardens, houseboats, and hotels. The houseboats also provide services of food and accommodation to visitors. Along this aesthetic route, one can enjoy stunning views of the lake from Mughal gardens such as Nishat and Shalimar. Colourful traditional wooden boats known as “Shikaras” elegantly cruise along the lake. 


Winter Transformation Of Dal Lake 

Dal Lake is a pure spectacle to look at both in summer as well as winter. However, Dal Lake in winter is a glimpse of paradise. During the winter season, the temperature in Srinagar can sometimes reach as low as −11 °C freezing the entire lake. Dal Lake often freezes in the 40 days of harsh climatic conditions in winter, locally known as “Chilai Kalan” in Kashmir.

When the cold engulfs the mountains, it forms a fragile layer of ice over the lake. The lake could freeze to the extent that people can walk on it. Walking on the frozen lake, encircled by the snow-covered Himalayan peaks, evokes an ethereal experience. The sublime view arouses a sense of wonder, leaving an unforgettable imprint on one’s memory.

The frozen Dal Lake in Winter attracts visitors from all over the world to witness Nature’s frozen masterpiece. Not all parts of Dal Lake freeze every winter. It all depends on how cold it gets. The freezing changes with the weather during this time, making Dal Lake a winter wonder that varies in its icy beauty. However, when it freezes, the shikara rides may stop temporarily as it becomes difficult to navigate through the frozen water.

dal lake in winter

Weather Of Dal Lake In Winter 

During the winter season in Kashmir, Dal Lake experiences cold weather, with temperatures dropping considerably. Initially, the temperature drops such that the climate becomes considerably pleasant as compared to hot and humid summers. Then it continues to drop till the point the chilling cold may even freeze the lake.

Dal Lake in November

 In November, Dal Lake experiences chilly weather as winter sets in. The afternoons are pleasantly and comfortably sunlit. Evenings, however, may turn cold. Daytime temperatures generally range between 10°C and 20°C. While nights may drop to 0°C, occasionally going below freezing point. 

Despite the cold, daytime offers opportunities to enjoy Dal Lake in the winter season. Thus, a quiet stroll around the lake is an option. The changing temperatures create a dynamic atmosphere, making it suitable for varied outdoor experiences in Srinagar during this month.

Dal Lake in December

December marks one of the coldest periods in Srinagar, transforming the lake into a mesmerizing dreamland. Daytime temperatures range from 2°C to 8°C (36°F to 46°F), while nights can be even colder, dropping below the mercury levels to freezing. 

Sometimes, this month can be so cold that the lake might potentially start freezing. The frozen icicles might float on the surface. The surrounding view of Dal Lake in winter especially in December, when mountains are wrapped in snow is incredible.

Dal Lake in January

Since the harsh winter period in Kashmir starts in late December, January embraces the cold. The minimum temperature in and around Dal Lake persists below zero degrees Celsius.

Dal Lake is generally frozen in this month, either partly or completely. This depends on how cold the weather gets. Usually, the morning view of frozen Dal Lake in winter is foggy. Shikara rides usually are not advised when the lake is frozen. It is also advised not to try walking on Dal Lake for safety.

Dal Lake in February

During February, the weather is predominantly dry. While certain parts may experience rain or snow, Dal Lake generally does not completely freeze. Only the surface layer of water may ice over, which may during the daytime. 

The average temperature in February ranges from 4°C to -7°C. Dal Lake occupies a prime attraction in Srinagar. The lake stays unfrozen in late February, providing a clear path for shikaras to glide along its entire length. The experience of Shikhara rides in February should not be missed.


Places To Visit Near Dal Lake In Winter

In the cold winter season of Srinagar, Dal Lake is surrounded by beautiful places to explore.

Nishat Garden: Nishat Bagh is situated on the eastern shores of Dal Lake near Srinagar. It is a lovely terraced garden full of flowers. Nishat Bagh has lustrous marble and stones placed at every waterfall, making the garden intriguing. This aesthetic garden is an architectural legacy of the Mughal Period.

  • Location: It is located on the banks of Dal Lake, near the Shalimar area.
  • Timings: Every day from 9 am – 7 pm, including the national holidays.
  • Entry Fee: Rs. 20 for Adults & Rs. 10 for Children
  • Distance: It is at a distance of 10 km from Dal Gate.

Shalimar Garden: Shalimar Bagh is a Mughal garden located in Srinagar. It is connected to Dal Lake through a channel in the northeast. Popular for its architectural charm, the garden boasts “Chini khanas” situated behind descending waterfalls.

Shalimar Bagh offers visitors a beautiful experience with its serene water and the ethereal glow that once adorned its fascinating niches after the sun sets. 

  • Location: It is located near Dal Lake on its right bank, in Srinagar
  • Timings: Every day from 9 am – 7 pm
  • Entry Fee:  Rs. 24 for adults and Rs. 10 for children
  • Distance: It is at a distance of 13 km from Srinagar Bus Station

Pari Mahal: Pari Mahal, also called The Palace of Fairies, is a Mughal garden on the Zabarwan range, offering views of Srinagar and Dal Lake. The structure reflects the intricate Islamic architecture. 

It significantly features beautiful arched doorways, tiered gardens, and detailed water channels. The vibrant, well-groomed lawn beautified with colorful hue flowers and fruit trees adds to the charm of this bright green garden. 

  • Location: It is located on the south-west side of Dal Lake, Srinagar
  • Timings: Every day from 9 am to 7 pm, including Holidays.
  • Entry Fee: Rs. 20 for Person
  • Distance: It is at a distance of 9 km from Srinagar Bus Station.

Hazratbal Shrine: Hazratbal Shrine in Srinagar is a renowned mosque highly revered by Muslims. Local beliefs hold that it preserves Moi-e-Muqqadas, a sacred strand of hair from Prophet Muhammad’s beard. Also referred to as Dargah Sharif, the mosque symbolizes the deep love and reverence of Muslims towards the Prophet. 

It stands as a significant place of worship, attracting followers for its historical as well as religious importance. Locals visit Hazratbal Shrine for Friday prayers in masses. It also sees a surge in visitors when the sacred relics are exhibited.

  • Location: Near the University of Kashmir, Hazratbal Srinagar.
  • Timings: Every day from 9 am to 5:30 pm 
  •  Entry Fee: Nil 
  • Distance: It is at a distance of 8 km from Srinagar Bus Station.

Nigeen Lake: Nigeen Lake is a slightly eutrophic lake located in Srinagar. It is occasionally viewed as an extension of Dal Lake, linked to it by a narrow strait. However, it is considered as an independent lake. 

 On its eastern shore lies the famous Nigeen Club. Nigeen Lake stands out for its clear waters, like the iconic Dal Lake. It’s full of houseboats and shikaras. The lake, deeper and less flocked than Dal Lake, offers an ideal setting for swimming. 

  • Location: Opposite University of Kashmir, Hazratbal Srinagar.
  • Timings: Every day from 9 am to 5:30 pm 
  • Entry Fee: Nil (except for Shikara rides or Houseboat Stay)
  • Distance: It is at a distance of 8 km from Srinagar Bus Station.

Chashma Shahi:  Chashme Shahi Garden in Srinagar is famous for its natural spring and is a must-visit tourist spot. The spring was discovered by a female saint named Rupa Bhawani. The spring is distinctively famous for its cold and medicinal water. 

It is a garden with three tiers. On the highest level, there’s a two-story hut said to be where the water sources come from. The gardens have Persian/Iranian-style designs, making them a beautiful sight for tourists

  • Location: Near Raj Bhawan (Governor’s house), Srinagar.
  • Timings: Every day from 9 am to 5 pm, including Holidays.
  • Entry Fee: Rs 40 per person
  • Distance: It is at a distance of 8 km from Srinagar Bus Station.

Dachigam National Park: Dachigam National Park lies in Zabarwan Hills and is home to a variety of plants and animals. It nurtures trees like wild cherry, apple, pear, and walnut. It is known for protecting a famous yet endangered Hangul, the famous Dotted Kashmiri Stag. 

Other species include the musk deer, leopard cat, Hill fox, etc. Dachigam National Park got its name, as a tribute to “the ten villages’ relocated for its brisk establishment. 

  • Location: Near Harwan Mughal Garden, Srinagar
  • Timings: 5:30 am – 6 pm (On every Tuesday, Park is closed)
  • Entry Fee: For Indians, Rs 25 per person (extra Rs 100 for carrying a camera). For Foreigners, Rs 50 per person (an extra Rs 200 for carrying a camera) 
  • Distance: It is at a distance of 17 km from Srinagar Bus Station.

Things to do in Dal Lake In Winter 

Dal Lake offers some special experiences to explore in Winter. Below are some of them:

1. Shikara Ride: Indulge in the serenity of a shikara ride on the cold expanse of Dal Lake in winter. Ride through the pure water, encircled by the pristine beauty of the snow-wrapped landscape. 

 The peace of the sublime Dal Lake in winter offers a wonderful experience as you ride on the traditional wooden boat. Immerse yourself in the winter of Iceland. Appreciate the views that make a shikara ride on Dal Lake in winter truly enchanting.

2. Houseboat Stay: Discover the unforgettable experience with a cozy stay on a well-built traditional houseboat on Dal Lake. Explore the charm of the season in the warmth of these architectural waterside abodes.

The view of the tranquil Dal Lake in winter and the snowy scenery outside soothe the senses. A houseboat stay offers a unique blend of local cuisine and comfortable accommodation. What more do you need than a cozy stay in the heart of this jewel? 

3. Boat Ride: Apart from the popular shikhara, you can also take rides on wooden boats. Drift through the crystalline waters, exploring the breathtaking beauty that surrounds you. Engage with the local culture and food as you pass floating markets and witness daily life on the water.

The floating markets offer both vegetarian and nonvegetarian cuisine, whatever you prefer. The most popular food is the famous barbecue, kehwa, and water chestnuts.

4. Jet Skiing: Explore the thrill of jet skiing on Dal Lake. Glide over the pristine surface of water, surrounded by the ethereal beauty of snow-covered mountains. Feel the rush as you pierce through the chilly air.

Enjoy the unique euphoria of Srinagar’s winter wonder. Jet skiing on Dal Lake in winter provides an exhilarating pleasure, blending the excitement of water sports with the ambiance of this popular destination, making it a delightful winter activity. 

5. Fishing: Cast your fishing line in the Dal Lake. Whether from the shores of the lake or a traditional wooden shikara, Dal offers a perfect setting for anglers. Revel in the serenity as you wait for a catch. 

Enjoy the closeness to nature that fishing on Dal Lake provides. Fishing Tour to Kashmir is one adventure sport that has a global charm. It truly makes up for a delightful experience amidst the winter gem of Srinagar.

6. Walk around Dal Lake: Explore a casual winter stroll around the frost-kissed banks of Dal Lake. Have a leisurely walk on the boulevard road beautified with Mughal gardens and charming houseboats. 

Have a look at the views of snow-clad mountains and the chilly expanse, and feel the crisp winter air. A walk around Dal Lake during winter presents a wholesome experience, aiming you to get immersed in the seasonal charm of Srinagar’s jewel in the crown.

7. Enjoy Sunset: As the time of Dusk arrives, the scenery of the lake changes completely. The Sun begins to set and the sky turns crimson. The reddish-yellow hues of the sky overshadow the lake. 

Witness the sun descending the horizon, painting a reddish glow over the snow-covered majestic mountains and glistening waters. The evening time is lit with stars and city lights. This is the best time to feel its beauty in full grace.


How To Reach Dal Lake

Below is the respective itinerary: 

By Air: One can easily take a flight to reach Dal Lake. The nearest airport is Sheikh ul Alam International Airport, Srinagar. There you can hire a cab or taxi. It will take around 50 minutes on average to reach there. The distance between the airport and Dal Lake is approximately 22 km. 

By Road: Roads leading to Dal Lake are well-constructed and offer a smooth drive. One can take a bus or a taxi from Srinagar bus station after reaching Srinagar via NH44. It will take approximately half an hour to reach Dal Lake (10 km). Boulevard and Foreshore Roads are the famous roads that stretch along the lake.

By Train:You can reach Banihal railway station. You can then hire a taxi or get on a local bus to be able to reach Dal Lake in Srinagar. It will take almost an hour or two to reach the destination.


Tips To Visit Dal Lake In Winter 

Following are the tips to visit Dal Lake Kashmir in winter:

  • Clothing: Ensure that you pack warm clothing, as Srinagar’s weather tends to be very cold in winter. Also, the bone-chilling cold feels a little extra near the lake because of the vast open expanse.
  • Ideal Hours to Visit: Experience the surreal and austere beauty of Dal Lake by visiting in the morning or evening hours. If you wish to explore the floating vegetable market of the Jheel, start your day as early as possible. 
  • Budget: For a one-hour Shikara ride across the lake, you can expect charges between INR 400 to 500, with room for negotiation here and there, especially in group bargaining. You may also enjoy local delicacies and cuisine during the ride.
  • Photography: You may carry a camera and capture the memories by donning traditional Kashmiri attire, Pheran, and posing with colorful flowers during your Shikara experience.

Conclusion: Thus, Dal Lake or Dal Jheel is a celebrated gem in district Srinagar, untangles a meditative escape. Its houseboats and floating gardens symbolize Kashmir’s unique charm. Each moment, be it dawn or dusk day or night, epitomizes a refreshing spectacle. 

The reflective water, welcomed by majestic peaks, forms a picturesque backdrop. Beyond a mere tourist destination, Dal Lake invites thrilling exploration through winter sports and Mughal gardens. In its pristine water, Dal Lake stands as a timeless gem to the calm allure of Kashmir.


FAQs

1. Which is the best month to visit Dal Lake?

The best time to visit Dal Lake is from May to November. This is the time when most tourists flock to see the beauty of this lake. However, if you want to see the charm of Frozen Dal Lake, you can pay a visit to the lake in January.

2. Is Dal Lake open in December?

Absolutely! Dal Lake is open in December. Depending upon the intensity of the cold, parts of Dal Lake may freeze this month making the fragile icicles float on the surface of the water. However, the famous houseboats on Dal Jheel proceed to operate, offering a beautiful experience. 

3. Is Dal Lake open in January?

Yes. However, It remains partly or fully frozen. Due to this, Shikara rides are restricted. The houseboats still offer a cozy stay. People are warned not to attempt to walk on the lake for safety reasons The majestic surrounding mountains in the backdrop of this icy gem create an otherworldly experience.

4. Is Shikara Ride possible in December? 

December marks the chilly winter season in Kashmir. The temperature significantly drops during this month. Since parts of the lake are frozen, Shikara rides are not always possible. Sometimes due to the temperature variation, the lake doesn’t freeze. That time the shikara owners might offer you an enjoyable ride.

5. Which month did Dal Lake freeze?

Dal Lake generally starts to freeze in December, especially in the middle of the month. Dal Lake might freeze partially this month. January too contributes significantly to the freezing of the lake. These months are the peak winter months of Kashmir. It might start to defrost in February when the temperature rises.

6. What is the weather & temperature of Dal Lake in January?

January is considered to be the coldest month in Kashmir, and hence the Dal lake is frozen during this time. The minimum temperature in and around Dal Lake persists below zero degrees Celsius. The minimum temperature of the valley during January is -2.0°C on average.

7. Does Dal Lake freeze in December?

Depending upon the varying temperatures, Dal Lake might start to partially freeze in December. The icy parts are fragile and float on the surface of water. It continues to freeze subsequently when the temperature drops as the month proceeds. This has been nature’s norm for many years. 

8. Are the Shikara rides available during the winter months?

This depends upon the fact whether the lake is frozen or not. Shikara rides are still possible in December. But it may be severely disrupted if the lake is frozen. In January, the rides may be restricted as it is difficult to navigate through frozen lakes.

9. Can tourists stay in houseboats during the winter season?

If you wish to stay in a houseboat in bone-shivering winter months in Kashmir, you can! There are multiple houseboats in Dal Jheel in Kashmir which are well equipped with all important gadgets to provide a heating system, crucial for comfort and convenience to tourists against cold.