Gay Travel to Kashmir and Lake Dal
Kashmir lies high in India's northwest and is famous for Srinagar and Lake Dal. Palatial house boats have been around for the last century and are still a wonderful and relaxing place to spend a few days. In the sixties, Beetle George Harrison spent weeks aboard one of these boats learning to play the sitar from Ravi Shankar.
Meeting and assistance on arrival and transfer by Jeep to Lake Dal, where a small boat will take you to your deluxe house boat. Later in the evening, a boat ride on the lake to see the your first Kashmiri sunset. The lake is actually two placid expanses of water, Lokutdal and Boddal, which are separated by man-made strips of land inhabited by colonies of farmers. Thus, the lake is not a flat, unbroken mass of water, but a labyrinth of waterways, awash with a lifestyle not encountered elsewhere in the world.
Lake Dal is Srinagar's major life-support system with its wide variety of marine life: fish, lotus roots, plants and floating gardens. The hospitable boat people of Kashmir trace their origins from Noah. Entire families live on boats, clinging stubbornly to their traditional culture and accepting a way of life that was bequeathed to them by their ancestors. Dinner is served on your Houseboat.
Day Two: Excursion to Gulmarg
After breakfast you take a full day excursion to nearby Gulmarg, which is legendary as one of the most beautiful hill resort towns in India. Gulmarg was a favorite haunt of Emperor Jehangir who once collected 21 different varieties of flowers here. Today, Gulmarg is not merely a mountain resort of exceptional beauty, it also has the highest green golf course in the world, at an altitude of 2,650 m, and is the country's premier ski resort in the winter.
The journey to Gulmarg is half the enchantment of reaching there. Roads are bordered by miles of poplar trees give over to flat expanses of rice fields interspersed with picturesque villages. Depending on the season, nature's colors could be the translucent green of spring, summer's rich emerald, or autumn's golden hues, when scarlet chilies festoon windows of village homes.
After Tangmarg, the climb to Gulmarg begins through fir-covered hillsides. At one point, known simply as View Point, travelers generally stop their vehicles for a few minutes and look out a spectacle of snow-covered mountains, almost within touching distance.
Lunch at Gulmarg and dinner at the houseboat are included.
Over the last thousand years Kashmir has been important to Buddhists, Hindus, and later Muslims. There are occasional clashes between the Muslim minority and local authorities. These are well away from tourist areas. We think Kashmir is as safe as a trip to Chicago. Weather here is cool most of the year, so a few days here might be a great break from the tropical heat of a longer India itinerary. Staying a few nights aboard a luxury houseboat with its own staff is a very special experience.
Day Three: Mughal Gardens
After breakfast, a morning tour of Mughal Gardens and Pari Mahal with their terraced lawns, cascading fountains, paint-box bright flower beds with the panorama of thelake in front of them. The three Mughal Gardens of Cheshmashahi, Nishat and Shalimar are the Mughal emperors' concept of paradise and are today very popular places for picnics. Pari Mahal, once the royal observatory, also has a charmingly laid out garden and is a five-minute drive from Cheshmashahi. In the afternoon, proceed to see the ruins dating back to the Mahbharata period at Avantipore.
Day Four: A Boat Ride and a Flight
Morning free to enjoy the place or take another boat ride on the lake. Later, transfer to the airport for your onward flight to Delhi.