Thursday, February 28, 2013

Intoxicating India 2013 - Life On A Kashmiri Lake

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Intoxicating India : Life On A Kashmiri Lake

Touring Lake Dal in Kashmir during our India holiday (see Intoxicating India Day 3)  was an eye-opener - it was a peek into the life of the Kashmiri living within the lake.

After lunch of our 2nd day in Kashmir, we boarded our Shikaras, we would be touring Lake Dal on our boats. This would not just be a tour of the shops along the lake, we will be going beyond that; and go into the further reaches of the lake and view life at the villages there.

Just nearby to our houseboat was a boat selling fast food. Just park your Shikara go on board to eat.
OR make your order, take-away and eat while being rowed around the lake.
Hmmm... a local version of a drive thru' (or more aptly row-thru') fast food joint!

While moving about the lake on a Shikara, don't be caught offguard if one is often approached by Kashmiri in their boats, selling all sorts of things to tourists - fruits, snacks, shawls, veils, knick-knacks, etc.
They are quite an enterprising lot, and do sometimes become rather insistent & persuasive in their sales pitch.


But we did not have much time for the these boatmen or the tourist shops along the way.
We are moving ahead, from the lake into the smaller canals. The waterway between these two large buildings marks the end of Lake Dal and the start of the canals.

This sudden moving from the large lake into the narrow canal caused a Shikara traffic jam at this point.

Beyond this point, they are hardly any tourist shops or houseboats.
Only the local dwellings. First were the large houses, probably for the richer locals who want to stay nearer the mainland.

The houses started getting smaller, but are still relatively rich in looks. This one here even has satellite television.

Hmmm.... a motorboat moored beside one of the larger house. To reduce pollution, motorboats are not allowed on the lake. This resident must have some special permit.

Further in were the village housing.

And the vegetable farms...

The vegetables grow green & healthy here, and high atop the trees are the nests of the Kashmir eagle.

These eagles can be seen frequently soaring into the sky.


I did not see any motor boats other than the one I saw that was parked by a house. The absence of any motorboast has mad life in Lake Dal a very quite & sedentary one. Everybody around by row boats; the tourists in the Shikaras and the locals by their own small row boats.

The small boats are just the thing for the narrower canals in the further reaches of the village - moving about by boat is the most convenient means.

Like sending their children to school by boat.

Shopping by boat... the man seems in a serious mood - did the wife shop too much; Hah! seems this happens everywhere, Haha!

Selling vegetables by boat.

Delivering goods by boat.

The teenagers go about by boats.

From young the Kashmiri here are taught to familiarize themselves to balance themselves on a boat, like this infant with her mother.

And the ducks seems to be happy with this quiet arrangement.


To support life on the lake, houses clustered on some sections of the lake seems to act like the local market. Here is a butcher with a waiting customer.

The poultry shop.

The local tailor, who is still using one of those manual hand-spin sewing machine.

A provision store.

A lakeside pharmacy. And "No!", the man on the left is not getting some medication because he is pregnant. There is something under his robe but it is not a baby; we will come to that later.

And a mini-market.


A young boatman, full of zest looking forward to a fruitful life.

An older boatman, face more serious with concerns of making a living for him and his family.

An old boatman, his face weathered by the cold and weathered by life experiences.

A little girl doing washing at the lakeside.

Three man passing time watching the boats go by. I noticed that Kashmiri men wear long woolen robes and when sitting like this, the often have one arm inside the robe - what are they hiding?

They are not hiding anything sinister, below their robes are these heater basket - a basket with lit charcoal inside, a portable heater of sorts - to keep themselves warm in this cold weather. Remember that "pregnant" man, he wasn't pregnant; he was holding one of this below his robe.

Two happy young sisters.

Mr. Chaku, the owner of the walnut wood furniture shop.


"Persian Arts" - a shop dealing in papier machie artwork.

Asian Crafts House - a shop selling Cashmere shawl, veil, clothing, etc.

G.N. Chaku & Bros. - selling walnut wood carving & artistic furniture

Kisan Kesar Bandaar - a spice, dried fruit & nuts, and honey shop. They also sell saffron.

Hotel Leeward, right in the middle of Lake Dal - for those who prefer to stay in a proper hotel and not the houseboats.

N.K.P.C. - the New Kashmir Produce Company, selling Kashmiri arts & crafts.

Ladakh Handloom House, for hand-made shawls, sarees, veils, bedsheets, etc.

Abi Karpora Leather House. You guessed it correct! - sells leather jackets, satchels, bags, etc. The leather is from the Kashmir goat, soft and smooth.

Well, that's Life On A Kasmiri Lake, it will forever be etched in my memory.
Especially, the memory of these children waving goodbye to us.

Related Blogs :

Up the mountains to a temple, back down again for a boat tour of life on a Kashmiri Lake.

Feel on top of the world - a stay on a Kashmiri houseboat at Lake Dal amid the Himalaya.

An eight day trip to India: from Delhi to scenic Kashmir, to the pink city of Jaipur, to the Taj Mahal in Agra and back to Delhi sights.

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