The floating market on Dal Lake was essentially on my mind when I was in Srinagar for less than 24 hours after my trek to Kashmir Great Lakes. I wanted to experience living in a houseboat on Dal Lake and witness the floating market on Dal Lake - one of the most unique experiences of India. In the process I ended up exploring a lot more on the Dal Lake, which I had never heard of before.
I had a word with a Shikhara owner and he had instructed me to be ready at 04:00 am to start our ride to the floating market. It was my first night on bed in the houseboat after sleeping in tents for 8 continuous nights. The excitement to experience this event was so high, that I was actually ready at 04:00 am and he was waiting for me at the entrance of my houseboat. It was dark when we started. Traveling solo in Kashmir was anyways an adventure! I kept myself engaged in talks about the floating market with the shikhara rider to keep away from the stress of unwanted tension.
The darkness faded out in some minutes and the lake looked pretty like never before. This was some side of the lake, I've never seen even in the pictures. We navigated through the narrow lanes, under the wooden bridges, some houses on the sides and their mirrored reflections in. There were few more shikharas on the lake riding towards the floating market.
Floating vegetable market on Dal Lake in Kashmir
After 45 minutes ride, we made it up to the floating market. The vendors had already occupied the centre stage. All the shikharas loaded with fresh vegetables, made the lake look colourful in the wee hours of the day.
Barter system on Dal Lake in Kashmir
Did you know that barter system still exists in India? I was moved to see this part of humanity that still exists in India. The locals here grow vegetables in small lands near the house. Every morning they stock up their shikharas with their homegrowns and exchange them here. At the end of one hour, they all go back home with a mixed bag of vegetables, before the sun is out. There's no money involved, only exchange of vegetables.
The humanity was amplified in my eyes when I saw these guys carefully helping out eachother in transferring vegetables to each other's shikharas.
Sometimes even "3rd person" aids in exchanging vegetables by holding the shikhara while the other two do their barter business.
The floating market on Dal Lake was the most "No-nonsense" market I've ever seen. All the eyes are on the other's vegetables. An eye signal is enough for them to get to an agreement on the exchange.
I laid my eyes on the houses behind the shikharas, where these locals live.
There was also a "Mr. Wonderful Flower Man"
The Mr. Wonderful Flower Man was sweet enough to come to me and gift me a flower from his bunch. I was the only outsider there who wasn't participating in the barter. He perhaps didn't want me feel left out.
The floating market wound up before sunrise and I asked my Shikara rider to take me around to the Nishat garden on his shikhara. It was way more expensive and time consuming than visiting the gardens through the road by auto rickshaw. Probably this was the second best decision I had taken, after the visit to the floating market.
As we rode ahead, I saw some stunning actions on the lake and learnt a lot from the shikhara rider about the life of people in Kashmir.
People at work on Dal Lake
Srinagar is actually divided in 2 parts - people living on the Dal Lake and people living on land/road. Two extreme lifestyles exist in the capital city of Kashmir.
The kids living on Dal Lake ride their own Shikhara to schools.
Fishing is an important source of livelihood for people living on Dal Lake.
The women here are seen extracting the weeds from the lake. These weeds are used to make compost for their home gardens.
A woman carrying the weed extracts in her Shikhara.
Wedding houseboat on Dal Lake
There is a marriage hall in the middle of the Dal lake with the mountains in the backdrop . I believe all the Kashmiris living on the Dal Lake celebrate a destination wedding by default.
Char Chinar Island on Dal Lake
There is a small island on the lake called Char Chinar, which has four Chinar trees. We parked our shikhara on the side and hopped on to this island to enjoy the tranquility of the lake,
First rays of sun on Dal Lake
Dal lake glitters when the sun rises from the mountains and spreads its rays on the lake.
Chori ki Kheti on Dal Lake in Kashmir
There are pieces of land floating on the Dal Lake called as "Chori ki kheti" (Stolen farmland) by the people here. These pieces of land are owned by whoever finds them floating and takes them along.
The Shikhara rider asked me to step on that floating piece of land that was just 5-6 sq. feet in size. He guaranteed me that I won't sink in.
Namaste! I'm Medhavi Davda.
I travel to Evolve..
In Nature, I confide..
I find my calling in the Himalayas..
In the Oceans, I meditate..
A High-Altitude Trekker & PADI certified SCUBA Diver, I love exploring the heights and depths of the planet with my regular doses of mountains and oceans.
Discovering myself & life through nature, adventures, travels, sports and dance has been an addiction since my existence!
Quite fond of the natural & cultural diversity of India, I've travelled extensively in my own country before exploring international destinations.
I had left my 9+ yrs of career in Software Industry in a quest to make a living out of my passions. I packed my basics in my car (gave away the rest) and lived in different parts of Himachal Pradesh for 16 months. This invaluable time taught me to experience life from a broader perspective.
I'm currently living in Mumbai to work with an Adventure Travel company as a product manager for Scuba Diving. I continue living a minimalistic life.
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