The dal lake is the integral to tourism and recreation and an important source for fishing and water plant harvesting. The shore line of the lake, is about 15.5 kilometers and encompassed by a boulevard lined with Mughal era gardens, parks, houseboats and hotels. Scenic views of dal lake can be witnessed from the shore line Mughal gardens, such as Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh built during the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir and from houseboats cruising along the lake in the colourful shikaras. During the winter season, the temperature sometimes reaches −11°C , freezing the lake. The lake covers an area of 18 square kilometres and is part of a natural wetland which covers 21.1 square kilometres, including its floating gardens. The floating gardens, known as "Rad" in Kashmiri, blossom with lotus flowers during July and August. The wetland is divided by causeways into four basins; Gagribal, Lokut Dal, Bod Dal and Nagin. Lokut-dal and Bod-dal each have an island in the centre, known as Rup Lank (or Char Chinari) and Sona Lank respectively.
One version is that it is the remnants of a post-glacial lake, which has undergone drastic changes in size over the years and the other theory is that it is of fluvial origin from an old flood spill channel or ox-bows of the Jhelum River. The dendritic drainage pattern of the catchment signifies that its rock strata have low levels of porosity. Lithologically, a variety of rock types have been discerned namely, igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary. The Dachigam Telbal Nallah system is conjectured to follow two major lineaments. Discontinuous surfaces seen in the terrain are attributed to the angular and parallel drainage pattern. The water table cuts the hill slopes, which is evidenced by the occurrence of numerous springs in the valley. Seismic activity in the valley is recorded under Zone V of the Seismic Zoning Map of India, the most severe zone where frequent damaging earthquakes of intensity IX could be expected. In the year 2005, Kashmir valley experienced one of the severe earthquakes measured at 7.6 on the Richter's scale, which resulted in deaths and the destruction of many properties, leaving many homeless.
Dalgate and Aamir Khan Nallah are two outlets from the dal lake connects the lakes of Nagin and Anchar Lake. Dalgate is controlled by a weir and lock system. The outflow from these two outlets has been estimated as 275.6 million cubic metres. The shallow, open-drainage lake is fed by Dachigam-Telbal Nallah (with perennial flow), Dara Nallah (stream) and many other small streams. The lake is classified as 'warm monomictic' under the subtropical lake category. Spring sources also contribute to the flow, although no specific data is available to quantify their contribution. To address this, water balance studies to analyse and assess the characteristics of flow have been conducted in order to approximate the discharge contributed by the springs in the lake bed. The complex land use pattern of the valley is reflected in the urbanised Srinagar in its north, with rice fields, orchards and gardens in the lower slopes, and barren hills beyond steep sloping hills. The flat topography also affects drainage conditions. It receives an average annual rainfall of 655 millimetres in the catchment, but during the summer, snow melt from the higher ranges of the catchment results in large inflows into the lake. The maximum flood discharge of Telbal Nallah has been assessed as 141.5 metres for a one in hundred return period; the 1973 observed flood in Telbal Nallah has been estimated as 113 metres. The average annual flow, according to discharge measurements, has been estimated as 291.9 million cubic metres, with Telbal Nallah accounting for 80% of the total and 20% contributed by other sources. The silt load has been estimated at 80,000 tonnes per year with 70% contribution from the Telbal nallah, with 36,000 tonnes recorded as settling in the lake.
Pahalgam is a town and a notified area committee in Anantnag district of the Indian state of Jammu Kashmir. It is a popular tourist destination and hill station. It is located 45 kilometres from Anantnag on the banks of Lidder River at an altitude of 7,200 feet. Pahalgam is the headquarters of one of the five tehsils of Anantnag district. Pahalgam is associated with the annual Amarnath Yatra. Chandanwari, located 16 kilometres from Pahalgam is the starting point of the yatra that takes place every year in the months of July-August.