Life & Leisure

A morning at Kashmir’s famous floating market on Dal Lake

Men row their boats as they sell their produce in the daily wholesale floating vegetable market that begins at daybreak on Dal Lake in Srinagar, the main city of India-administered Kashmir, a territory nestled between the Himalayas and replete with lakes, rivers, streams, springs, and brooks.

The market carried out on dozens of gondola-like boats is more than a century old and was once an important tourist attraction for the visitors to the idyllic Himalayan valley that is politically disputed between India and Pakistan.

However, since an armed rebellion against the Indian rule began in the late 1980s, the market lost its touristic relevance. It turned into an important trade lifeline for the lake-dwellers who relied almost entirely on the tourism sector for their livelihood.

The market run by the local boatmen community thrives mainly since trouble has been visiting Srinagar’s streets, or at least some of them, almost daily since the insurgency erupted.

The waterways leading to the floating market and used by locals for traveling are almost always open while the main roads might be blocked because of a curfew or protest shutdown.

Most of the produce sold in the floating market is grown locally on what is known as floating gardens on the lake.

The floating gardens are built from weeds grown in the lake. The weeds are woven together into mats that can float and form the base of the garden. The boatmen then add layers of weeds on the mat till it grows into a thick raft-like piece of floating land.

Tomatoes, cucumbers, water chestnuts, carrots, collard greens, turnips, radish, and of course, the famous nadru (lotus stem, a delicacy in the valley) are grown in abundance in these gardens. EFE-EPA

A visual story by EPA-EFE photographer Farooq Khan

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