Kashimiri houseboats ready for tourism season

By Sheikh Imran Bashir, AIP,

Srinagar: Houseboat owners in valley are busy renovating and cleaning their houseboats ahead of the tourist season in the Valley.

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The ‘shikaras’, or houseboats have been the main attraction of Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar, a beauteous town set amid snow-capped mountains, pine forests and verdant meadows.

Houseboat-owners who have been busy mending and beautifying the houseboats after the winter season are ready to welcome tourists on board their boats that have been carpeted and embellished like any five-star hotel.

Aijaz Sheth a houseboat owner told Agence India Press that, in the month of March, we decorate our houseboats like brides. We expect to welcome the tourists as per our age-old traditions. This tradition continues. However, due to some unfavourable situations, it came to a halt but now we have started the renovation work once again.

The chairman of the House Boats Owners Association, Manzoor Wangnoo, expects good business during the tourist season this year.

While talking to Agence India Press Wangnoo said this year we have high expectations. It seems this year the season would remain full. We have received lot of enquiries in our association from domestic as well as foreign tourists. From April, we are hoping to have a boost in tourism here.

Commonly referred to as the ‘Switzerland of the East’, the Mughal rulers of India in 17th centaury called Kashmir ‘Paradise on earth’.

According to reports, around 60 percent of the people of Kashmir are traditionally dependent on tourism.