Ever wondered what makes Srinagar, in Jammu and Kashmir, a must-visit for tourists? It's the Shikara Race, a highlight of the Shikara Festival held on the beautiful Dal Lake. This event started in 2016 to attract more visitors to Srinagar and has since become a key part of the city's charm. Along with the exciting Shikara Race, the festival also features Dragon Boat Races and Canoe Polo Matches, offering a variety of water sports for everyone to enjoy.
The festival is all about celebrating the beauty and culture of Srinagar. Tourists and locals gather around Dal Lake to see the colourful shikaras (boats) glide through the water. It's held once a year, making the city buzz with excitement. Watching the skilled rowers compete against the backdrop of the stunning lake and mountains is an unforgettable experience. Besides the races, visitors can try local food, enjoy cultural performances, and explore the scenic beauty of Srinagar.
Main Attractions of Shikara Race
Each year during spring-summer, the Shikara festival is celebrated with full vigor and joy in Srinagar, Kashmir. The important and perhaps the most exciting part of this festival is the Shikara race. Shikara means long light-paddling boats. Several colourful Shikaras are brought out during the festival and local men & women along with tourists take part in this adventurous sport. Moreover, while you’re in the boat, mesmerizing Sufi music is played in all the boats.
2. Floating Shops
After you’re done with the light-hearted competitive Shikara Race, you can go for buying souvenirs. There are several floating shops that can sell you all sorts of amazing things ranging from gulkand ice cream to flavored saffron. You can also eat spice-infused barbequed lamb, chicken, and fish. The aroma and taste is something you won’t experience anywhere else.
3. Houseboat Stay
Many people who come to see the Shikara Race end up staying in the houseboats which they describe as nothing less than magical. You’ll be pampered with luxurious services and gastronomical delicacies in addition to Kashmiri tea and Kahwa. Visitors swear by the wondrous star gazing at night.
How to Reach Srinagar
Srinagar is a serene and beautiful city that is on just about every traveller’s wish list. From pure natural beauty to modern-day events & festivals, like the Shikara race, there is just everything here to experience and explore. The city is located at a distance of 816, 2,986, 2,186, 2,328 km from Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Kolkata respectively. Here are three main modes of transport you can take to witness the Shikara Race.
Srinagar has its own airport - Sheikh ul-Alam International Airport or simply, Srinagar Airport. It is owned by Indian Air Force. There are easily-available taxi and cab services outside the airport.
Delhi - Board Air India, IndiGo, AirAsia, Vistara, Spicejet flights from Indira Gandhi International Airport. The airfares start from Rs.7,000
Mumbai - Board Air India, Air Asia, Go Air, Spicejet from Mumbai Airport. The airfares start from Rs.8,000
Kolkata - Board Spicejet, Air India, Go Air flights from Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport. The airfares start from Rs.10,000
Chennai - Board Spicejet, Air India, IndiGo from Madurai airport. The airfares start from Rs.11,000
One of the cheapest ways to reach Srinagar is via a rail network. Srinagar has its own railway station, called Srinagar railway station or Nowgam railway station. However, there are no direct trains from Srinagar to any major city. But there exist direct trains from a nearby Jammu railway station - Jammu Tawi. From there on, you can take State Transport Bus that goes to Srinagar.
Delhi - Board Jammu Rajdhani from New Delhi Railway Station and deboard at the Jammu Tawi Station
Mumbai - Board Swaraj Express from BANDRA TERMINUS and deboard at the Jammu Tawi Station
Chennai - Board Andaman Express from MGR CHENNAI CTL and deboard at the Jammu Tawi Station
Kolkata - Board Jammu Tawi Exp from KOLKATA Station and deboard at the Jammu Tawi Station
If you’re a Jammu and Kashmir resident or live nearby, then you can very well take the bus route to attend Shikara Race. Here is highway information from various places.
Leh - 807 km via Leh Manali Hwy
Dalhousie - 382 km via NH44
Chamba - 418 km via NH44
Mysuru - 91 km via NH501 and Srinagar - Kanyakumari Hwy
The Shikara Festival, with its thrilling boat races, showcases the unique culture and natural beauty of Srinagar. It's an event that brings life to Dal Lake, drawing crowds eager to see the spectacle and participate in the festivities. For anyone visiting Srinagar, experiencing the Shikara Race is a must to fully appreciate the vibrancy and tradition of this beautiful city. The festival not only entertains but also connects people to the rich heritage of Jammu and Kashmir.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Shikara Race
Q1: What is the Shikara Race?
A1: The Shikara Race is a popular event where participants race in traditional boats on Dal Lake, part of Srinagar's annual Shikara Festival.
Q2: When is the Shikara Festival held?
A2: The Shikara Festival takes place annually in Srinagar, but the exact date can vary. It's usually held during the summer months.
Q3: Can tourists participate in the Shikara Race?
A3: While the races are typically for professional or local participants, tourists can enjoy watching the races and experiencing the festival's other activities.
Q4: What else can you do at the Shikara Festival?
A4: Besides the races, visitors can enjoy Dragon Boat Races, Canoe Polo Matches, local cuisine, cultural performances, and the scenic beauty of Dal Lake.
Q5: How can visitors reach the Shikara Festival in Dal Lake?
A5: Visitors can reach Dal Lake in Srinagar by taxi or auto-rickshaw from any part of the city. Srinagar is well-connected by road, air, and rail to major cities in India.