Have you ever heard of canoeing in Srinagar? It might not necessarily be well-known yet, but this is actually one of the most popular activities to do in the summer capital of the Kashmir nowadays, especially as there is such a push being made by the government for it. One need only visit the area and see the gorgeous stream of the Jhelum winding its way right through the middle of the city to see why. Add to that the sheer beauty of the famous Dal Lake, one of the largest lakes in the region, and you have the perfect setting for a romantic canoeing experience. Against the backdrop of the Himalayas and the rustic frame of houseboats fringing the water’s edge, how could a canoe not be an ideal addition to this picture?
There are several lakes where canoeing in Srinagar is typically done. The most popular choice would obviously be Dal Lake. Dal Lake is a tourist attraction in itself, and it is also the location of the many famed houseboat communities of the city. With an area of 18 square kilometres, this is an enormous lake, and actually holds what is considered to be a separate lake within its bounds (Nagin Lake, to be precise). As such, Dal Lake is the ideal place for canoeing if you want something picturesque and invigorating as well as free of too much water traffic.
This does not mean that Dal Lake is an “empty” lake, naturally. It is too beautiful for that and is in fact fairly well-occupied: no one is denying that a lot of things are always happening on Dal’s waters—there are even fishermen here—but due to its size and the fact that the houseboats are always tethered to the shore, you shall have a pretty good space to do your canoeing in. A mere 60 kilometres away is Wular Lake, too, which is said to be the biggest of all the freshwater lakes in the country, and which some people like to use for their canoeing. Then, of course, there is Nagin Lake in Dal Lake itself, which could be another choice for the canoe enthusiasts.
The Jammu and Kashmir Kayaking and Canoeing Association has recently gotten together with the state’s Sports Council to introduce canoeing in Srinagar to the general public. A tournament for kayakers and canoe enthusiasts is being promoted heavily as a result. The winners of the state tournament actually move on to a bigger competition: this is merely a qualifying round for people to participate in the National Kayaking and Canoeing competition. Most of the water sports typically take place around the summer months of May and June, although there are also some competitions taking place in September and October. Best be prepared for the chill if you do plan to get some canoeing done in the latter pair of months, though: Srinagar gets cold in the winter, and October is properly the fall season, when the temperature takes a sharp drop. September can be as cool as about 12 degrees Celsius, but October can dip to as low as 6 degrees, so canoeing in Srinagar may be a bit difficult then if you are unused to the chill.