This blog post is about my houseboat experience in Kashmir and it also coins around the concept of the houseboat and its enchanting history.
Vaguely visible giant snow-capped mountains started appearing unhurriedly. Along with the mist-laden morning, the profound silence in the valley added the much-needed charm. The sound of Azaan created a rhythm in the air. As the sun rose behind the layers, the far-flung moored shikaras began to move slowly.
The pain in the voice of the Shikarawala as he hummed folk Kashmiri songs while rowing his boat created the most poetic aura in the wee hour of the day. I stood quietly on Wangnoo Sheraton Houseboat‘s verandah, watching the magical morning unfold. In other words, I was captivated by the serenity.
Each season is said to bring the best of nature’s bounty to Kashmir. I visit Kashmir once a year, and I must admit that my love affair with paradise is still in its infancy. Kashmir’s allure is addictive. The more I visit, the more fascinated I become. I like to spend my mornings sitting quietly, sipping piping hot Kawah, and getting lost in the aura.
It was my very first time experiencing a houseboat stay in Kashmir. I had always envisioned the stay but never managed to do it. The concept of experiencing a stay in a floating home is different than the houseboat you get to experience in Kerala. Moreover, it is more personal and intimate, and it allows you to slip quietly into the cultural heritage of Kashmir.
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HOW DID THE HOUSEBOAT CONCEPT COME TO EXIST?
The concept of houseboats primarily was not for tourism purposes. The Haanji community built these houseboats for personal use which used to be one bedroom, one living room, and kitchen setup. However, it was always meant for the boat-dwelling Hanji community who used to be skilled craftsmen. They came to Srinagar in search of work and started settling in their houseboats which were moored on Dal and Nigeen Lakes.
As the British people started visiting Kashmir in the pre-independence era, they were not allowed to buy land in Kashmir by the Maharaja of Kashmir. It made them rent those houseboats for their holidays. Interestingly, the Haanji community used to rent houseboats to foreign nationals during that time. In some of the houseboats, the family used to rent only one room to the British guests. The family used to live on the same houseboat.
Everything changed for good after India got its independence in 1947. The British left India and the houseboat owner lost their income from their foreign guests. It was only in the early 1980, Indian tourists began to visit Kashmir and the concept of Houseboat stay started floating around.
The houseboats are a part of Kashmir‘s cultural identity and heritage. These floating boats are nothing less than a floating homestay where one can experience the rich heritage of Kashmir during their holidays. The houseboats are made of cedar wood and the exquisite art of wood carvings inside the houseboat makes it looks quite opulent. Whether it is the intricately carved wooden ceilings, four poster beds, exquisitely designed carpet on the floor, and wooden panels, the houseboats of Kashmir flaunt the richness of artisanship in the true sense.
WHAT DID I LOVE ABOUT WANGNOO SHERATON HOUSEBOAT?
The Wangnoo Sheraton group of Houseboats has five deluxe houseboats and one luxury houseboat, designed to cater the honeymooners only. It was my first houseboat experience in Kashmir and I chose to be with Wangnoo Sheraton Houseboat. My very first impression of the houseboat just left me stunned. The only thing that made my jaw drop was their exquisite location. Away from the chaotic Dal Lake where the frontward is lined with uncountable houseboats big or small facing the famous Boulevard Road, the Wangnoo Sheraton Houseboats are moored on calm and peaceful Nigeen Lake facing the gorgeous Zabarwan mountains.
As soon as I arrived at Wangnoo Sheraton Houseboat, I had a hot cup of Kawah admiring the serenity to the core. The calmness it offers is simply unparalleled.
Find out what I loved the most about my stay at Wangnoo Sheraton Houseboat in Nigeen Lake.
I always prefer quieter corners. The exquisite location of the Wangnoo Sheraton Houseboat made all the difference. Seeing snow-capped mountains, pristine Nigeen Lake, and floating shikaras look like nothing less than a painting. Sipping a hot cup of Kawah and watching the dawn from the Verandah of the houseboat was my favorite thing to do.
EXPERIENCE KASHMIRI HOSPITALITY
It is said that nothing can beat Kashmir when it comes to hospitality. The best way to experience Kashmiri hospitality is to experience a houseboat stay in Srinagar. It allows you to interact with the houseboat owners and share the space with them. The houseboats are floating homestays that are now converted into luxury stays for tourists. Whether it is relishing home-cooked traditional food, listening to Kashmiri songs, experiencing the Kashmiri way of life, or just observing everything around you during your holiday, you will get to experience everything up close at Wangnoo Sheraton Houseboat.
RELISH AUTHENTIC KASHMIRI FOOD
Food is a significant part of any travel experience. It gives you a clear idea about the cultural fabric of a community and how it has been shaping up over time. Kashmir is known for its delectable flavors, especially non-vegetarian food. What I loved about my stay at Wangnoo Sheraton Houseboat was that they offered the best culinary delights every day. I relished their authentic Kashmiri cuisine during my visit.
EXPERIENCE FLOATING LUXURIES
When it comes to luxury houseboats, the best luxuries are the scenic surroundings that it offers. Nothing can compare to the enchanting landscapes and serenity it encircles. The calmness of Nigeen Lake and its new feel of it lets you absorb the beauty most beautifully.
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The Wangnoo Sheraton Houseboat has three bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, a common living room, a dining area, and a sun deck. The most attractive part of the houseboat is its sit-out area. Whether it is the sun-kissed mornings or quiet nights, sitting on the verandah gives you the most soothing feel.
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