Harzatbal’s call for morning prayer had woken me, replacing my usual cell phone alarm as the sound of the night. I now find myself sitting on soft cushions of a long flat-bottomed boat with a canopy above my head, while my parents and sister recline opposite me, peering out from under their blankets to protect themselves from the chilling early morning breeze. Behind them a small, tightly built figure is propelling us slowly forward with a spade shaped oar. Another man soon joins him beyond the shores of Hazratbal mosque, this time baring a flask with tea. This is our first morning in Srinagar and hot sweaty Mumbai is now but a distant memory.
[Hazratbal Mosque is one of the holiest shrines in Kashmir and its known for the Moi-e-Muqaddas (The Sacred Hair of the Prophet]
As we slowly move forward past quaint fishing villages, under the high Karakoram range on one side, the world floats by in shades of blue and the Dal lake seems like a long, wide, lazy, paradise. A paradise,though lost in conflict, is in reality unchanged by it. The english name board fitted on our shikara, 'Stranger in Paradise', seems so very apt. The valley it seems is too resilent to be shaped by violence.
[Srinagar by the Dal Lake]
[A quaint little fishing village on the banks of the Dal Lake]
A pair of brown cheeked Kingfishers perch themselves elegantly on a pole, ignoring us as we slip slowly through endless beds of floating weeds.
As we go under a rickety wooden bridge we witness a clutter of canoes and hear a distant sound of voices.
[A grey heron sifts through the marsh on Dal Lake]
As we move forward we reach the chaotic scene of what in Srinagar is known as “the floating market”. Life in Srinagar revolves around the Dal lake. Whether it is children going to school, women going shopping or vegetable vendors selling their produce, it all happens on the lake. Therefore, it did not surprise me to find an entire floating vegetable market.
[Floating Gardens on Nageen Lake]
I will leave you with some more pictures.
(The boy with the intense look)
[Vegetables exchange hands on the floating market]
[Money follows the sale]