If nature was a painter, then its masterpiece would have been Jammu and Kashmir. If that seems like an exaggeration, just take a look at its lakes. Its waters are so pure that they form a clear reflection of everything surrounding then, and that includes the enormous mountains. The importance of the lakes is not just limited to aesthetics; they are also an essential part of the ecosystem. With the colossal Himalyan ranges overlooking them, they appear as the perfect "gateways to heaven".
The largest, and the most famous of them all, is the Dal Lake. Easily the most famous of the several lakes in Jammu and Kashmir, it is referred to by various names like “Lake of Flowers” and “Jewel in the crown of Kashmir”. The image of a Shikhara floating leisurely on its calm waters has always created a yearning for it. Its shoreline, which is surrounded by houseboats, hotels, parks and Mughal era gardens, does much to enhance its attractiveness. The views of the sunset from the Dal Lake is phenomenal, as the setting sun dresses it in various shades of red.
Nagin Lake is also a very famous lake in Jammu and Kashmir. Lying on the foothills of Mt. Zabarwan, it is dotted with willow and poplar trees. It is surrounded by Shankaracharya Hill on the south and Hari Parbat on the west, and combined, they create a spectacular view. Other than enjoying a Shikara ride, you can also spot salesmen selling nuts, fresh flowers, baked goods, silk carpets and other materials.
Surinsar Lake is surrounded by hills and dense forests, while lotuses float delightfully on its surface. Located about 42km from Jammu, it is associated with a fascinating mythological legend, according to which, the lake came into existence when Arjuna, a warrior prince in the Indian epic, Mahabharata, released an arrow with great force. The place where the arrow landed turned into a lake.
Among the popular lakes in Jammu and Kashmir, Wular Lake stands out for its enormous size. Measuring 10 km by 24 km, it is counted among the largest freshwater lakes in Asia. It is comfortably nestled between two cities, Sopore and Bandipora. On one side, your eyes meet the sight of enormous mountains, and of steep valleys on the other. A famous bird sanctuary called Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, lies in close proximity to the lake. Mansar, which is otherwise famous for its food and crafts festivals, is also famous for its lake. It is as beautiful as the lakes in Kashmir usually are, but it is also associated with enormous religious significance.
Newly married couples are known to perform “parikramas” (circumambulations) to seek the blessings of the serpents who guard it. A variety of seasonal birds, tortoises and other marine life can be observed while boating on the lake.
Tso Moriri Lake, in the Ladakh region of Jammu & Kashmir, looks like it just sprung out from a postcard. Its waters look like they were dyed in deep blue, its shores form curious designs, while the barren mountains enjoy the scenery laid out in front of them. From here, you can feast your eyes to spectacular views of Zanskar in the west, Tibet in the east and Ladakh in the north. It is the largest of all the high altitude lakes in the trans-Himalayan region.
Pangong Tso Lake, located in the region of Ladakh in Kashmir, is big, beautiful and huge. So huge, in fact, that it measures almost 5 km at its widest point. It is equally long too, as it measures 134 km and stretches all the way from India to Tibet Autonomous Region. Even more impressive is the height at which it is located. Little tufts of clouds stand overhead, forming curious patches on the white and brown mountain below, even while the wavelets seem to rejoice in these pristine surroundings. With sights such as these, the eyes do not ask for more. Numerous movies have been short with the lake as the background, 3 idiots being one of them.