The Government of Jammu and Kashmir has launched a beautification and cleaning drive of the Dal Lake shoreline to attract tourists to Kashmir Valley. The primary aim of the beautification and cleaning drive is to attract more tourists to the Kashmir Valley and to give a substantial business boost to the city’s trading and commercial communities. The Dal Lake is located in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, and is the second largest lake in the state. The lake is integral to tourism and recreation in Kashmir and is named the “Jewel in the Crown of Kashmir” or “Srinagar’s Jewel”. The lake is also an important source for commercial operations in fishing and water plant harvesting. The shore line of the lake is about 15.5 kilometres and is encompassed by a boulevard lined with Mughal era gardens, parks, houseboats and hotels. Scenic views of the lake can be witnessed from the shore line Mughal gardens, such as Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh built during the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir, and from houseboats cruising along the lake in the colourful shikaras. During the winter, the lake is frozen. The lake covers an area of 18 square kilometres and is part of a natural wetland which covers 21.1 square kilometres, including its floating gardens, where flora blossoms during the months of July and August. The wetland is divided by causeways into four basins-Gagribal, Lokut Dal, Bod Dal and Neegin. Lokut-dal and Bod-dal each have an island in the centre, known as Rup Lank (or Char Chinari) and Sona Lank respectively. At present, the Dal Lake and its Mughal gardens, Shalimar Bagh and the Nishat Bagh on its periphery are undergoing intensive restoration measures. Around USD 275 million has been allocated by the Government of India to restore the lake to its original splendour.
2015 Kashmir Despatch