The lake s connected to a number of other lakes of the Kashmir valley. It is well known for its approximately 500 Victorian-era wooden houseboats, originally built as vacation homes for landles British administrators during the Raj. The lake covers 18 square kilometers, and is pided by causeways into four basins, called Gagribal, Lokut Dal, Bod Dal and Nagin. Lokut-dal and Bod-dal have an island each in the centre, known as Rup Lank (or Char Chinari) and Sona Lank respectively. Along most of the shore of the lake is a boulevard, lined with Mughal-era gardens, parks, and hotels. During the winter season the lake sometimes freezes over.
Dal Lake is a lake in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. The urban lake, which is the second largest in the state, is integral to tourism and recreation in Kashmir and is nicknamed the "Jewel in the crown of Kashmir" or "Srinagar's Jewel". The lake is also an important source for commercial operations in fishing and water plant harvesting.
The shore line of the lake, about 15.5 kilometres (9.6 mi), is encompassed by a boulevard lined with Mughal era gardens, parks, houseboats and hotels. Scenic views of the lake can be witnessed from the shore line Mughal gardens, such as Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh built during the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir) and from houseboats cruising along the lake in the colourful shikaras. During the winter season, the temperature sometimes reaches −11 °C (12 °F), freezing the lake.The lake covers an area of 18 square kilometres (6.9 sq mi) and is part of a natural wetland which covers 21.1 square kilometres (8.1 sq mi), including its floating gardens. The floating gardens, known as "Rad" in Kashmiri, blossom with lotus flowers during July and August. The wetland is pided by causeways into four basins; Gagribal, Lokut Dal, Bod Dal and Nagin (although Nagin is also considered as an independent lake). Lokut-dal and Bod-dal each have an island in the centre, known as Rup Lank (or Char Chinari) and Sona Lank respectively.
At present, the Dal Lake and its Mughal gardens, Shalimar Bagh and the Nishat Bagh on its periphery are undergoing intensive restoration measures to fully address the serious eutrophication problems experienced by the lake. Massive investments of around US $275 million (Rs 1100 crores) is being made by the Government of India to restore the lake to its original splendour.
Dal lake is mentioned as Mahasarit (Sanskrti-)in ancient Sanskrit texts. Ancient history records mention that a village named Isabar to the east of Dal Lake was the residence of goddess Durga. This place was known as Sureshwari on the bank of the lake, which was sourced by a spring called the Satadhara.
During the Mughal period, the Mughal rulers of India designated Kashmir, Srinagar in particular, as their summer resortThey developed the precincts of the Dal lake in Srinagar with sprawling Mughal-type gardens and pavilions as pleasure resorts to enjoy the salubrious cool climate. After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, which led to the disintegration of the Mughal Empire, Pashtun tribes in the area around the lake and city increased, and the Durrani Empire ruled the city for several decades. In 1814 a significant part of the Kashmir valley, including Srinagar, was annexed by Raja Ranjit Singh to his kingdom, and the Sikhs grew in influence in the region for 27 years. The lake freezes when temperatures drop to about −11 °C (12 °F) during severe winter.Although the Dogra Maharaja of Kashmir restricted the building of houses in the valley, the British circumvented this rule by commissioning lavish houseboats to be built on the Dal Lake. The houseboats have been referred to as, "each one a little piece of England afloat on Dal Lake."
After the independence of India, the Kashmiri Hanji people have built, owned and maintained these houseboats, cultivating floating gardens and producing commodities for the market, making them the centre of their livelihoods. The houseboats, closely associated with Dal Lake also provide accommodation in Srinagar. Following the Mughal and British rule, the place has became a haven for tourists and earned the epithet, "Jewel in the tourist crown".
The lake is located within a catchment area covering 316 square kilometres (122 sq mi) in the Zabarwan mountain valley, in the foothills of the Himalayan range, which surrounds it on three sides. The lake, which lies to the east and north of Srinagar city covers an area of 18 square kilometres (6.9 sq mi), although including the floating gardens of lotus blooms, it is 21.2 square kilometres (8.2 sq mi) (an estimated figure of 22–24 square kilometres (8.5–9.3 sq mi) is also mentioned).The main basin draining the lake is a complex of five interconnected basins with causeways; the Nehru Park basin, the Nishat basin, the Hazratbal basin, the Nagin basin and the Barari Nambad basin. Navigational channels provide the transportation links to all the five basins.
The average elevation of the lake is 1,583 metres (5,194 ft). The depth of water varies from 6 metres (20 ft) at its deepest in Nagin lake to 2.5 metres (8.2 ft), the shallowest at Gagribal. The depth ratio between the maximum and minimum depths varies with the season between 0.29 and 0.25, which is interpreted as flat bed slope. The length of the lake is 7.44 kilometres (4.62 mi) with a width of 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi). The lake has a shore length of 15.5 kilometres (9.6 mi) and roads run all along the periphery. Irreversible changes through urban expansion and road building have been made along the shore line to accommodate for dramatic tourist growth. Two islands built in the basin have placed further restrictions on the flow of the lake and as a result, marshy lands have emerged on the peripheral zones, notably in the foothill areas of the Shankaracharya and Zaharbwan hills. These marshy lands have since been reclaimed and converted into large residential complexes.
Two theories for the formation of the lake have been formulated. One version is that it is the remnants of a post-glacial lake, which has undergone drastic changes in size over the years and the other theory is that it is of fluvial origin from an old flood spill channel or ox-bows of the Jhelum River. The dendritic drainage pattern of the catchment signifies that its rock strata have low levels of porosity. Lithologically, a variety of rock types have been discerned namely, igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary. The Dachigam Telbal Nallah system is conjectured to follow two major lineaments. Discontinuous surfaces seen in the terrain are attributed to the angular and parallel drainage pattern. The water table cuts the hill slopes, which is evidenced by the occurrence of numerous springs in the valley. Seismic activity in the valley is recorded under Zone V of the Seismic Zoning Map of India, the most severe zone where frequent damaging earthquakes of intensity IX could be expected. In the year 2005, Kashmir valley experienced one of the severe earthquakes measured at 7.6 on the Richter's scale, which resulted in deaths and the destruction of many properties, leaving many homeless.
The fishing industry on Dal Lake is the second largest industry in the region and is central to many of the people's livelihoods who reside on the lake's periphery. Dal lake's commercial fisheries are particularly reliant on carp fish species, which were introduced into the lake in 1957. As a result, carp constitutes 70% of all the fish caught in the lake while the schizothonax constitutes 20% and other species account for 10%. Fishermen use a locally manufactured cast net which comprises six parts with a diameter of 6 metres. It is operated from a wooden fishing boat made out of deodar, typically 20ftx4ft in size. The gradual decline in quality of the lake water through pollution has resulted in lower fish stocks and the extinction of endemic varieties of fish. The causes for such deterioration have been identified and remedial actions have been initiated.
Left: Shankaracharya Temple built in 220 BC. as seen in 1868. Right: Shankaracharya temple as seen now -Overlooks Dal Lake.The sacred Shankaracharya temple, also known as Jyeshteswara, occupies the top of the hills (about 1,000 feet (300 m) above the surrounding Takht-I-Sulaiman plains in the south-east of Srinagar. The site, initially named Gopadri, dates back to 250 BC as a Buddhist monument, probably built by Emperor Ashoka's son Jhaloka. In the 7th century it was replaced by the present temple by King Lalitaditya. The philosopher Shankaracharya is documented as having stayed at this place when he visited Kashmir ten centuries ago to revive Sanātana Dharma.
Built on a high octagonal plinth (20 feet (6.1 m) high) on solid rock and approached by a flight of steps with side walls that once bore inscriptions, the main surviving shrine consists of square building with a circular cell. It overlooks the Srinagar valley and can be approached by car. A modern ceiling covers the inner sanctum and a Persian inscription traces its origin to the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan. There is also a Shiva Linga coiled by a serpent, located in a basin inside the sanctum. The original ceiling was dome-shaped and the current brick roof is said to be about a century old
Left: Hari Parbat as seen from Badam Weer (Almond Garden), Srinagar. Right: View of the temple from the stairs.Hari Parbat, also known as the Mughal fort, is a hill fort on Sharika hill that provides panoramic views of the Srinagar city and the Dal Lake. It was first established by Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1590. However, he only erected the outer wall of the fort and his plans to build a new capital called Naga Nagor within it did not materialise. The fort in its current state was built much later in 1808 under the reign of Shuja Shah Durrani. Within the fort's precincts are temples, Muslim shrines, and a sikh Gurudwara. The hill is the subject of many legends in Hindu mythology, and was said to have once been a large sea, inhabited by a demon known as Jalobhava and that the hill grew from a pebble