Hope you enjoyed my last post and here is some more on Kashmir.
This time, I am talking exclusively about the houseboats, the miniature hotels, located on the periphery of the Dal Lake, that have been there since 1860 and are now on the verge of extinction.
It is really sad to learn that the court has ordered the houseboat owners to shut their operations because of the rising pollution levels and depleting natural life within the lake.
According to officials, the Dal Lake figures among the 93 sick lakes of the world and the state pollution control board reported in 2004 that the level of pollutants in the lake was six to eight times above the permissible limit. Along with other factors, the houseboats are considered to be the cause, thus, the restraining order on houseboat operations.
However, those who have enjoyed a comfortable and interesting stay inside these houseboats are not happy to hear that, which brings me to a brief description about the houseboats.
Houseboats in Kashmir:
After descending on the scene more than a hundred years ago, the houseboats have come to be an integral life of the valley, especially the Dal. The official records claim that the first houseboat, named Victory, was designed by a serving officer of the British Army, M T Kenhard. Since then, these houseboats were mostly used to serve as vacation homes for the British officers, who were then facing mutiny in the rest of the country.
After traversing a long course of history of pre and post independence India, the houseboats have become a signature of the Dal Lake. Among other things, their popularity is because of the comfort and real flavour of Kashmiri culture preserved inside thes dwellings. Houseboats are generally made up of cedar wood and contain of living quarters, drawing and dining areas.
The interiors of these houseboats are decorated with carved wooden furniture, embroidered Kashmiri carpets and rugs, as well as various hand-made items, including paper machie objects.
The windows offer a beautiful view of the mountain peaks lining the Dal.
It is this piece of history, which is threatened with oblivion now and I fervently hope that that never happens. Pray with me friends.......