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WelcomHeritage Gurkha Houseboats
Ranked #1 of 358 Srinagar B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed July 9, 2013

We spent three very happy days at Gurkha Houseboat on the serene waters of Lake Nigeen. We first explored several houseboats and resorts on Tripadvisor and the reviews were spot on; Gurkha Houseboats are superb.

From the first email response till our farewell, staff at Gurkha were helpful, friendly and prompt. Their cheerful and helpful driver Nazir picked us up at the airport and dropped us off at a Shikara (small comfortable boat) docking site, and a Shikara took us across the lake to Houseboat Number 1. What a dramatic and beautiful approach to a hotel!

Each houseboat is served by two staff members; we were served by Rayees and Riyaz, who did everything they could to make our stay pleasant and comfortable. We are strict vegetarians, so Rayees ensured that we were provided with very tasty and ample veg food for dinner and fruits for breakfast. The rooms are large and well furnished; the bathrooms are modern and have running hot water. The common dining room is elegant and the dining table seats ten. The boat has a nice verandah/balcony with comfy cushions and pillows; we spent many pleasant hours gazing at the awesome scenery, enjoying the peace and serenity.

Shoukhat Ali, the manager, visits the boats several times a day to make sure that his guests are comfortable; he arranged trips for us to Gulmarg and Pahalgam. Try and get Nazir to drive you around, you won't regret it.

To summarize, Gurkha Houseboats provide all the conveniences that good, modern hotels provide; in addition, there's the romance of floating on a lake overlooking amazing scenery.
How much did we enjoy thus experience? Enough to want to go back to Srinagar next year and stay at Gurkha Houseboat!

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Raj-Raghupathy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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277 - 283 of 394 reviews

Reviewed July 8, 2013

(very verbose review; skip to the bottom for Key Points)

We planned our first trip to Kashmir. I cant say we had thought out everything out well, and so it happened that we ended up selecting the hottest week of the year to be in Srinagar. We had just finished our visit to Jammu/Vaishnov Devi the previous day and took the afternoon flight on a hot June week (literally, the hottest week of the year) into Srinagar. Thankfully, while the hottest week of the year, Srinagar was relatively bearable - in the low 30s at worst that day.

Our plan was to stay two nights in a house boat (neither me or my wife had ever experienced a houseboat). Then three nights into Pahalgam, and then back to Srinagar in a hotel for one night, and back to Bangalore.

The trip from the airport to the houseboat was about 40 minutes. Most houseboats are on Dal Lake -- I had heard that Dal was overcrowded and relatively dirty (the number of "Save Dal" banners around city only reinforced that) and so I had chosen Gurkha on Nageen Lake. Our driver ended up taking us to Dal first, but then we did find our way to Nageen in a bit.

My wife was a bit nervous about 2 nights in a house boat (questions like what kind of food/ameneties, bathrooms - hot water, cleanliness; will the boat rock) etc were weighing heavily. She even suggested that we cut the 2 nights to just 1 night, and instead spend more time in a regular hotel.

Anyways, we reached Nageen lake. The Shikara drivers (shikaraa is the long boat that is used on the lakes) were already there - surprisingly well organized. I told them my name and the name of the houseboat company (aka Gurkha) and they had a card with my name, and the boat number, and an assigned Shikara driver. He took us to the boat, loaded our luggage on it -- and off we were - floating across Nageen lake to the other side -- where the houseboats are moored.

Honestly, even I did not know what to expect at the time, and was keeping my fingers crossed. I had done the best I could - which was select the quieter of the two lakes (dal vs nageen) and also select the best rated houseboat company (aka gurkha). Beyond that, I was just hoping it would work out.

However, the experience thus far was pleasant. Srinagar is nice. The lake looked nice (it did have a lot of green stuff growing; i am told that was because we were there in the peak of summer and the sea plants do tend to thrive in the sun). More than the scenic lake and the mountains, and the nice shikara - the people were nice. Our driver - Ali Mohammad - was singing old songs for us!

As we got closer to the houseboat, a gentleman in all white clothing (typical muslim clothing) was waiting for us there. I could see stairs leading up to the houseboat, and this man with a big smile welcoming us. We climbed those stairs up, and he introduced himself as Sharif (Sharif bhai). We took of our footwear in the front area (balcony) of the houseboat and immediately were bowled over by the beauty of the work (carving, carpets, cushions... ). Walked from the balcony to a very large living room with sofas, little library, television with airtel dth, diwan, chandeliers, lamps, and all done so beautifully. Walked further in to a full fledged dining room - with a beautiful dining table, refrigerator on the side, flowers and so forth. Went further in to check the rooms and bathrooms (cleanliness, water, towels, shower etc...). The first room (this was a two room houseboat) had a large queen size+ bed and a single bed next to it. THe room was large, had its own dresser area and looked very plush. It had an attached bath, which had a bathtub, hot running water, and all standard five-start amenities, including WC, fresh towels, shampoo, conditioner and the works! Whew -- this was not going to be a disaster on that count at least. We were all bowled over. But wait - there is more -- we walked into the second bedroom, thinking that if it was anything like the one we had seen, we were in good shape. Were we wrong - the second bedroom was even larger, and had a poster style king bed with beautiful netting around it. Probably meant for honeymoon couples predominantly - thought we werent complaining. There again was a dressing area - and then a large attached bathroom with the same facilities as the other one. BTW - the fittings were jaguar et all - so very good standard.

We came back out to the living area, where Sharif Bhai asked us if we would like some tea - and suggested we could have either indian tea or kashmiri tea - kahwah. We chose the latter, and immediately were impressed with the different aroma that was tasty. Even my boys (12 and 15 year old) who dont drink tea (or coffee) enjoyed kahwah.

Our housboat was called Lady Juliet -- and with us taking both the rooms, we had it all to ourselves. Sharif bhai asked us what we would like for dinner - and gave us some veg and non-veg options. We told him that we wanted to enjoy kashmiri cuisine explicity and he suggested something called Rista (we had no idea what it was; but went with it).

We sat on the side of the houseboat and Sharif Bhai introduced us to fishing. My boys - esp the 15 year old - loved it. My wife sat out in the balcony watching the lake, the sun set and the shikaras go by. Several of them stopped by to show their wares (jewellery, flower/seeds, dry druits, saffron, leather, pashmina, et all) ... they will dock next to the houseboat and climb up to show you stuff. "The shops come to you"!.

At around 8:30pm, Sharif bhai announced dinner was ready (!!!) - we walked to the dining room to realize that it had been set perfectly - water, salad, raita, daal, sabji, rice, rotis and Rista! I know this review is getting long, but to start to wind it down, the food was heavenly. I asked Sharif bhai if he would join us, but he politely declined and said that he will eat only after we were done. He hung around unintrusively to help us, answer any questions, but gave us our space at the same time. What a gentleman. My boys really took up to him.

Breakfast was aloo parathas (yum again!). We ended up changing our itinerary to spend four nights on the house boat instead of the planned two nights, and even then felt that we could have stayed a couple more nights.

Every night, we would wait to experience yet another aspect of Kashmiri Wazwan Cuisine. The food is made to order with fresh ingredients, by expert chefs (Waz as they are called) and the food is out of the world, and not something you can order in a restaurant (due to it being custom made for you with farm fresh ingredients). Gustava, Rogan Josh, Tabak Maaz, Maaz Haak, .. Kashmiri cuisine was mind blowing. Every morning, our breakfast would be simply filling, Our days were generally sorties into town (or into Sonmarg) but we were happiest coming back to the Houseboat.

Despite it being the hottest week of the year, the houseboats were comfortable and at night we did use blankets (rajais) along with the cieling fan at low speed. Fishing was somethign that we did a lot of, and got to know Raeez bhai - another gentleman of the houseboat moored next to ours.

There was a very nice park right behind the houseboat that you could go for walks - and see the locals unwinding, et all.

The best of the times were spent in the front balcony, taking in the lovely scenery, or talking to the shikara hawkers , sipping Kahwah (after us being super polite the first night, we figured out the right balance of pushing back when we needed our time and space back; dont let them crowd you when you are not interested).

I must also add a point for the manager of Gurkha Housebat - Shoukat Bhai. He was very helpful in changing our itinerary given that we decided to change our itinerary. Nice guy - who was always high energy and inquiring if we there was something that would make us more comfortable. The difference between Sharif Bhai and Shoukat was that Sharif Bhai had no revenue targets - he was totally focused on making us comfortable.

Key points:

Kashmir to us was about three things - beautiful nature - beautiful people (and I mean both inside and outside including their warmth/hospitality) and amazing food.

1. Gurkha is a great houseboat company. Chose another one at your own risk.

2. Book a houseboat so that you have it all to yourself. Houseboats have multiple rooms, generally each with its own attached bathroom. But the rest of the area - living room, dining room, balcony, are shared spaces. Insist on a houseboat that has just as many rooms as you need, and you will have a better time (imho; we did). Go with a group if that it makes it practical to take the entire thing. I would even make it a condition to your booking (and not leave it to best effort).

3. If I ever go back, I will not stay anywhere but with Sharif Bhai - Boat #5. That is not to say that the other houseboat keepers would not be great. In fact I did interact with Raeez bhai from the neighboring houseboat and he seemed a gem too. But if it aint broken, why fix it. Sharif Bhai was an amazing host, and more than half of the credit for our pleasurable experience goes to his warm personality and smiling disposition.

4. Chose the right weather. I suspect in very cold weather, house boats may be uncomfortable. I am no expert - having being there only once, but HBs may may sense int he april thru september timeframe only.

5. I did take a shikara ride to Dal. You can chose to stay there too - I dont htink you would be making a big mistake. But Gurkha is availabel on Nageen only. Maybe there are other comparable HBs there. But I wont be going anywhere but Gurkha/Nageen.

6. I would avoid peak June summer weather; While the evenings and mornings were pleasant-to-cool, the days were warm if you were in the sun (the HB was fine though).

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled with family
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2  Thank Ashwin K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 4, 2013

It was a wonderful experience staying in Gurkha houseboat. We were ferried by shikara from Nageen lake to d doorstep of houseboat. The manager , Showket with an attendant Mithu was there to receive us. The decor of d houseboat was mesmerising. Beautifully carved wooden furniture, wall to wall carpet, and jhoomars were awesome. Manager Showket, made us feel at home and Mithu was there to look after our meals n all other needs. Chef made us authentic Kashmiri food which we still have a taste. We were also taken to their showroom which has fine pashmina shawls, carpets, suits etc. which we could,nt resist and for we had to loose our pockets.

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled with family
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Thank VirenderSareta
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 3, 2013

Beautiful and serene lakefront, comfortable accomodation, attentive house staff and excellent freshly cooked meals made this stay completely satisfying. I must specially mention manager Shauqat who also organised our trips around Srinagar and our caretaker Gulachacha who made that extra effort to respond to our various requests. Strongly recommend shikara rides to the floating gardens. All in all, a very enjoyable stay.

Room Tip: The front double room is spacious and you can see the shikara and men quietly fishing for hours from...
See more room tips
  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled with family
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Thank ManosiLahiri
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 1, 2013

When we first arrived, the view took my breath away. The mountain and lake view from my porch was outstanding and e enjoyed some very nice boat rides on the lake.
The houseboat itself was very impressive, finished to a great standard. Everything from the carpet to the chandeliers was unexpected and a great surprise.
The food was amazing aswell. A dining table was included and meals were brought to us depending on what package we chose. We were served food /drinks in our own houseboat and everything was cleaned for us. Our helper stayed with us in the houseboat for anything we needed (his name mithu) and was extremely nice and helpful, making tea at a small charge and generally being very helpful. When we first arrived we had a good introduction from a man named showket who toured us around the houseboat and gave us all the information we needed, once again a very nice man.
I highly recommend this company for the outstanding houseboat and service, it exceeded all of our expectations and made our 3 days there very enjoyable. The water pressure in the shower was slightly low but we managed to deal with that.

  • Stayed: July 2013
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Thank Dillan_94
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 1, 2013

The first thing you notice when you get to the houseboats is the location. Open the doors and in front of you is the lake you travelled across by boat, backdropped by a beautiful mountain range. The second is the houseboats themselves, set amongst many other houseboats the Gurkha Houseboats really stand out, the quality of workmanship and the overall design will blow you away. We have a personal assistant Mithu, who is wonderful and is always on hand to offer assistance! All of our meals have been divine, cooked by the Gurkha Houseboat Chefs and wonderfully arranged by Mithu! The staff here are all very friendly and kind, as is the manager Shaukat who is always easy to locate and talk to if required! Just brilliant!

  • Stayed: July 2013
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Thank Dipen123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 30, 2013

WelcomHeritage Gurkha House Boats is typically awesome when you would like to stay in Srinagar.One can stay in 5 stars but for Srinagar Houseboats are the one where to stay.In house Boats WelcomHeritage Gurkha House Boats are the one.The employees like Shauqat ,Mithu are always ready to help and be there any time.Excellent food,Excellent Cleanliness and Excellent Kashmiri Art one can see in HouseBoat.

The food prepared by Chef War was very much tasty and every bite gave traditional Kashmiri Cuisine flavour.

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled with family
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Thank nirmalkap
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about WelcomHeritage Gurkha Houseboats

Address: | Opp Nagin Club, Srinagar 190001, India
Location: India > Jammu and Kashmir > Kashmir > Srinagar District > Srinagar
Amenities:
Restaurant Room Service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 358 B&Bs / Inns in Srinagar
Price Range: $125 - $176 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — WelcomHeritage Gurkha Houseboats 4*
Number of rooms: 18
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A houseboat on a placid lake ringed by flowering trees is by far one of the most attractive choices for accomodation. It sets the tone and pace for a visit to this ethereal city and WelcomHeritage Gurkha Houseboats on the Nagin Lake is an amalgamation of all that is the last word in pampered comfort, elegant lavishness and abiding romance. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Gurkha Houseboats Hotel Srinagar
WelcomHeritage Gurkha Houseboats Srinagar, Kashmir

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