One of the most magnificent and popular attractions in Srinagar is the Dal Lake. Nestled at the foothills of Mount Shridhara, the glistening waters of this lake are a sight to behold. Set against the cinematic backdrop of the Pir Panjal mountain ranges, the Dal Lake exudes a peaceful vibe and a romantic aura. It is dotted with elaborate houseboats that are decorated with intricate wood carvings, and colourful shikaras (narrow wooden boats that resemble the gondolas in Venice). Visitors can rent these houseboats, some of which are very luxurious, and enjoy a few hours of sailing in the lake. Make sure to look out for flower and vegetable vendors on similar boats, selling their wares to tourists. There are many floating restaurants and photography studios as well.

Around 1200 AD, the lake covered an area of 75 sq km and at present, it is spread over 21.1 sq km, with a maximum depth of 5.4 m and a shoreline of 15.4 km. Of the total area, only about 11.4 sq km is open water and the rest is under floating gardens, most of which have settled permanently. The lake has a large mountainous catchment, spread over 316 sq km. It also has four interconnected basins � Bod Dal, Gagribal, Nagin and Hazratbal with more than 90 per cent water entering the lake from its catchment through a perpetual inflow channel � Telbal Nallah.

The remaining 10 per cent water is contributed by the springs that rise from the bed of the lake. Through Nallah Amir Khan, the water of the lake gets drained out into River Jhelum�s tributary.

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