Life on a Houseboat, Srinagar

Life on a Houseboat, Srinagar

Trip Overview

Dal Lake has been a long standing witness to the times that Kashmir has been through. India Untravelled invites you to live on this historical lake, in a warm and cozy houseboat run by a family who has lived on the Dal-Lake for many generations. Your houseboat is a traditional dwelling of Kashmiri people who live on the lake and has a beautiful view of the iconic Shankaracharya temple hill.

Mohammed Sultan Badyari, built the houseboat himself in the 1980s. Today, with the help of his wife and daughters, he personally manages the houseboat and the visitors. The family is well versed with the region and the best local sights and are eager to share their hospitality with the travellers through their stories and food.

Travel back in time to an era when Srinagar was known for its beauty, friendly people and peaceful environs. Ride on a Shikara to the holy shrine Hazratbal, let a local take you through the lanes of the Old city, letting you in on the best places to shop and eat. Visit the stunning valley of Yousmarg, a pine forest away from the usual touristy spots. Above all let the valley embrace you as one of its own. Heaven is here!

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Trip Highlights

Stay in a Houseboat: A trip to Srinagar is incomplete till you haven’t actually stayed in a houseboat on the Dal Lake. Experience the city and its culture living in a houseboat.

Old and New City guided trip: Make your way on foot and shared local transport through the lanes of Srinagar. Visit the famous shrines, market places and indulge in some irresistible shopping.

Shikara ride to Hazratbal: This will definitely be a ride to remember as you make your way on a Shikara through floating vegetable and flower market, village landscapes and breathtaking views of the snowpeaked Himalayas.

Home-cooked Kashmiri Cuisine: Tingle your tastebuds as the host family introduces and hooks you on to the delicious aroma of Kashmiri Cuisine, recipes for which have been handed down to them by their ancestors

Cook a kashmiri dish: Kashmiri cuisine is world famous for its aroma and taste. Learn a dish or two from your kashmiri hosts who’ve mastered the cuisine through traditional recipes.

Try your hand at rowing a shikara: It definitely looks much easier to row the Shikara than to actually do it! Try your hand at rowing your Shikara on the Dal Lake.

Day trip to Yousmarg Valley: At a time when all well know tourist places are brimmimg with tourists, visit the secluded and quaint Yousmarg valley and hike through the pine forests most tourists are unaware of.


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Brief Itinerary

The Life in a Houseboat trail is perfect for those who want to live with the locals of Kashmir and experience their warm hospitality not to mention an access to their best kept secrets, places the regular tourist seldom know about. This trail can be customized based on your travel days and interests.

Days 1: Meet the family. Take in the views of the Dal Lake

The Life in a Houseboat Experience can start at the Srinagar Airport, which is connected to the rest of India by domestic flight connections. A pick up can be organized by a cab and you are transferred to the houseboat on Dal Lake which is going to be your home for the next few days. The rooms are furnished with traditional Kashmiri furniture, made of walnut wood.

Mohd Sultan is assisted by his wife Rafiqa who will tickle your tastebuds with her expertise in the local cuisine. Their daughters, Afshan and Heena, love sharing stories with visitors. The host family lives in a cottage next to the houseboat so you can enjoy both convenience of having them around and privacy of being alone.

In the evening one can opt for a short shikara ride to take in the life and beauty the city has to offer.

Day 2: Day Trip: Guided tour of the Old and New City

Today a local guide will accompany you to the old and new parts of the city of Srinagar. The trip becomes all the more interesting as you take the local transport with him to reach the places or mostly walk on foot. Visit the Shah-E-Hamdan mosque, Jama-E-Masjid to learn about the architecture and culture. In the market place walk past the old trade shops of copper, textiles and dryfruits and shop a bit. Have a hearty lunch at one of the famous eateries. Take a stroll around Raj-bagh, the Jehlum river and cross the foot bridges that provide a stunning view of the city and be among locals. Admire both old and new city scenes the city has to offer at your leisure.

Days 3: Shikara Trip to Hazratbal

Excitement knows no bounds as today we will embark on a full day shikara trip to Hazratbal. The ride from the houseboat to the holy shrine of Hazratbal is scenic and one comes across many water village landscapes on the way there. On reaching Hazratbal you are guided to the mosque and the surrounding market. A picnic lunch is arranged at Char Chinar island. It is a scenic island between the Hazratbal bank and the famous Mughal gardens of Shalimar and Nishat. On the way back take a different route and sail past old city landscapes of pandit houses.

Day 4: Day trip to Yousmarg

Yousmarg valley is at a short distance from Srinagar. Travel on Kashmir's mountain roads in a quiet part of the province and enjoy the views of western Himalayas. One can enjoy beautiful scenery and go on a short day trek through the pine forest. One can also visit the river area called dooghganga, 'doogh' means "milk" and 'ganga' means "river", the doogh ganga is named so as it appears milk is flowing through the mountains and big rocks. The sound of gushing water in a quiet corner of Kashmir truly is stuff memorable times are made of.

Day 5: Cook a Kashmiri Dish

On you last day in Srinagar, take a bit of Kashmir with you. The hostess, Rafiqa will guide you as you assist her in cooking a kashmiri dish in her kitchen. Enjoy the meal chatting with them and take along some happy memories of the valley and the warm people who live here.

Transfer to Airport for your flight back home.

Contact us at to customize this trip or book your dates.


Please email us at to plan and book your travels.


Solo Traveller: INR 25000
Twin Sharing: INR 16000 per person


  • Airport Pick and Drop
  • 4 Nights stay in a Houseboat
  • Breakfast and Dinner on all days
  • Short Shikara ride on Day 1
  • Shikara ride to Hazratbal
  • Day trip cab to Yousmarg
  • Guide on Day 2&3
  • One lesson in Kashmiri Cooking

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Best time to visit

Winter (November to February): Sunny and cold during the day, very cold at night.

Spring (March to April): Chance of rain; pleasant temperature during the day and cold at night

Summer (May – August): Sunny and warm during the day and pleasantly cool at night (June-August are noticeably warmer)

Autumn (September - October): Sunny and pleasant during the day, chilly at night


The homestay is a perfect getaway for people of all ages and fitness levels – you can make your stay as relaxing or as active as you like. A medium level of fitness is needed for the guided city walk and the hikes in yousmarg valley.

What to pack

Leave your pre-conceived notions behind, travel with an open mind, and you'll be pleasantly surprised with what you find.

  • Sunscreen, sunhat
  • Walking shoes
  • A warm jacket if travelling in winter
  • Umbrella, raincoat in the rainy season
  • Insect repellant if you are prone to mosquito bites
  • Books to read and write, stationery to paint and draw - anything you love to do and never get the time for
  • Binoculars for bird watching
  • Cosmetics you need
  • Prescription medicines, if any
  • Camera and batteries / charger

Please email us at to plan and book your travels.


Please email us at to plan and book your travels.


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Please email us at to plan and book your travels.

Responsible Travel

How this trip makes a difference:

  • A concentrated effort is made to preserve the wilderness around, and grow or source organic vegetables, fruits and ingredients.
  • All guided walks on this trail are with local guides, who have grown up in these mountains and are turning to tourism to complement traditional occupation income.
  • Accommodation on this trail give you a chance to interact closely with the local hosts and understand life (and how life has changed) in the region.
  • All food provided in the accommodations is freshly prepared in the host kitchen, using locally grown and locally sourced ingredients.
  • The trail aims to introduce travellers to lesser known sites and attractions in Srinagar to help preserve its ancient heritage and pristine natural beauty.
  • The revenues generated from this trip are reinvested to sustain efforts in heritage conversation, as well as to further the cause of responsible travel in India.

How you can make a difference on this trip:

  • Take the time to interact with your hosts and think of yourself as a guest at a family home. Please don’t expect room service!
  • Carry a good water bottle and ask to refill filtered drinking water at your accommodation. Refrain from buying numerous plastic mineral water bottles.
  • Pack your bags with environmentally friendly things. Carry as little plastic as possible.
  • Do not leave behind any non-biodegradable waste. Carry batteries and other toxic waste back to the cities where waste management is in place.
  • Respect the local culture and refrain from physical intimacy in public places.
  • Try local food as much as possible and avoid packaged food. Ask for modifications in the food according to your taste, instead of wasting it.
  • Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and refrain from drugs, especially in public places.
  • Seek permission before photographing people, so their privacy is respected.
  • Do not pluck any medicinal plants & flowers, and do not disturb the wildlife.

Please email us at to plan and book your travels.

Please email us at to plan and book your travels.