Kashmir has been in the news for the last month – The Indian Government has taken some very decisive and firm steps in an attempt to bring peace to the region. The entire media space has been dominated by Kashmir with history, geography and current events of the region.
With so much Kashmir being belted in the media I instantly drew a connection with my last blog post.(Bangkok- Floating Market – Damnon Saduak & Mae Klong Railway Market). This floating market in Thailand is a booming artificial tourist destination developed less than fifty years ago on a series of irrigation canals which have long passed their intended purpose.There is not much to see there except the floating vendors garnished with monkey and alligator shows!
Dal Lake on the other hand in Srinagar is a natural lake in the heart of the capital city of Jammu and Kashmir. The region is known for its natural beauty and has been a tourist attraction for many years before the slowdown due to the security situation. Many of the famous Indian classic movies were filmed here before being forced out to the now more preferred locales in Switzerland. Dal lake covers an area of 18 sq km and another 4 sq km of lotus blooms which are at their best in July and August. It is natural lake fed by local streams with the catchment area around the surrounding Sankaracharya hills.
The lake is bounded by the Boulevard and the Foreshore road and one can get a great view of the lake from the Mughal era gardens of Nishat Bagh and Shalimar Bagh or from scenic houseboats known as Shikaras which used to abound the lake – I have a clear and vivid memory of the beauty of the lake and the surrounding attractions when I drove round the lake on the Boulevard and Foreshore road during my tour of duty nearly thirty years ago .
As with many spots of natural beauty the Dal lake too has been subject to human degradation and one has read about the destitute state that the Shikara owners have been driven to on account of the absence of tourist who have given a go by to Kashmir. My curiosity and a need for a comparison with the Thai floating led me to an internet search of photographs some of which are reproduced.
Looking at these photographs it is obvious that the Dal lake and its floating market set in the beautiful Kashmir have a great tourist potential, perhaps even superior to that at the Damnon Sadouk which attracts innumerable tourists in spite of being a tourist trap. I sincerely hope that peace will prevail in Kashmir and it will soon develop into a major world tourist destination and live up to its expectations as a paradise on earth. Popularising a floating market at the Dal lake is a great place to start.