Srinagar's distinctive feature is the great body of water, the Dal Lake, which forms its focal point. The Dal has, within its area, two enormous sheet-like expanses of water-Lokut-dal and Bod-dal, the rest of its surface being broken up alternatively by man-made strips of land inhabited by whole colonies of people and vegetation.
Thus the lake is not a flat, unbroken mass of water, but a labyrinth of waterways, awash with a lifestyle not found elsewhere in the world.
The waters of the lakes are pleasantly cool from mid-May to mid-September. Shikaras can be hired from any of the steps called 'ghats' (jetties) leading to the lake. Some rides are fixed and their rates are posted at each ghat as well as opposite the Tourist Reception Centre. Shikaras are a refreshingly novel way of seeing Srinagar by day and at twilight, the gentle soothing motion of the boat, as it glides along the water, is unbelievably romantic.
Leading from the Dal is the smaller Nagin Lake. Here too, the waters are edged by trees of willow and poplar whose reflection is mirrored in the lake. 'Bathing boats' here, as well as on the Dal, hire out water-skis and motor launches.
Nagin lake lies to the east of the city at the foot of the Zabarwan Mountain. The Shankaracharya hill (Takht-i-Sulaiman) is to the south and Hari Parbat on its west. The lake is 6x3 km and is divided by causeways into four parts. Gagribal, Lakut-dal, Bod-dal and Nagin. Lokut-dal and Bod-dal each have an island in the centre, called Rup Lank or Char Chinari and Sona Lank, respectively.
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