Houseboats on Dal Lake

Once upon a time, in the 60's when the world was very different, Dal Lake in Kashmir rated high on the hippie trail.

The lake, nestled between snow-covered mountains, is covered with old wooden houseboats. These were built by the British as retreat from the summer heat (at the time, the British weren't allowed to own land, but a boat on the water was a different thing).

Now, with Kashmir occupied and a curfew in place, few visitors wend this way. We had the lake virtually to ourselves - a far cry from those heady days when the boats were filled with backpackers and a haze of smoke from locally grown 'herbs' settled over the water each night.

Every day we would potter around the lake and into the by-waters on long boats. Nestled amongst cushions and rugged up against the cold (for the snow was creeping down the mountains) I felt as if I had entered the world of the Raj.

One morning we even woke before dawn to reach the morning market, hidden deep in the maze of waterways which fill the lake.

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