Where letters still sail: Kashmir’s floating post office bridging tradition and modernity

Photo credit: Adnan Nazir

Tauseef Ahmad, TwoCircles.net

Srinagar: At a time when technology connects people from every corner of the world, the unique floating post office in the serene waters of Dal Lake in Kashmir stands as a remarkable testament to traditional methods of communication.

Support TwoCircles

The post office continues to bridge the gap between modernity and heritage. It allows locals, tourists alike the charm and experience of handwritten letters.

Every year, lakhs of tourists from around the globe visit Kashmir to witness its beauty, lush green forests, snow-capped mountains and beautiful lakes.

Built in the colonial era nearly two centuries ago, the floating post office in Dal Lake delivers letters on a daily basis. Until 2011, it was known as the Nehru Post Office.

“In today’s world where we are only a click away from our near and dear ones, writing a letter to someone has different emotions — which the young generation is completely unaware of,” Gulzar Ahmad, 65, a local resident of Srinagar told TwoCircles.net.

He also said they have shifted to e-mails and other mediums of communication, but the joy of receiving a letter is something that digital technology cannot fulfil.

“The unique concept of a floating post office, which is housed in houseboats, attracts everyone who visits Dal Lake. It takes us back to the era when we waited for days to receive a letter from our friend or relatives,” Nadir, a tourist from Gujarat, said.

Photo credit: Adnan Nazir

Tradition of delivering letters

The postman, who delivers around 30-40 letters every day, explained, “Before digitalisation, we used to see postmen on bicycles delivering letters, but distributing letters through the Shikara (a traditional boat) is unique and does not happen anywhere in the world.”

He also said these days when post offices across the country have limited functions, this floating post office delivers hundreds of letters every day.

A heritage and symbol

Kashmir valley from centuries has had a rich cultural heritage, which attracts tourists across the globe.

“The post office has a unique and distinctive stamp, featuring a Shikara and a boatman. It makes each letter unique and memorable to everyone,” he said.

A tourist said he has travelled to several countries, but the floating post office catches everyone’s attention. “I have seen this on Google, but watching it live is altogether a different experience,” he said.

Photo credit: Adnan Nazir

Though he never wrote a letter to anyone, he said, writing one from this post office forced him to describe the scenic beauty of Dal Lake. “I will definitely visit here again with my whole family,” he said.

It is not only the post office, which has served people for centuries with its unique service, it has a long history that symbolizes the blend of tradition and modernity of Kashmir. It is a postal marvel, which still disseminates the emotions of thousands of people,” said a boatman.