When we think of Srinagar, we think of the magnificent Dal Lake which is an integral part of tourism of Jammu and Kashmir. Located in the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, the Dal lake acts as a centre of attraction for the tourists in the valley. Kashmir’s Dal Lake appears like a jewel with crystal clear water and more splendid is the floating vegetable market in Dal which appears like an untouched island. In winters, it freezes to form ice sheets & act as a mirror to the blue skies.
For centuries, Dal Lake has been a place where every aspect of life for Kashmiris, living around the lake, is centred on water. With the first light of the day weaves up many stories in the Dal lake. From Shikara rides to day hikes in a houseboat, every part of the Dal Lake appears to be busy in their own wonderland. Among those beautiful stories are the stories of the sabji walas who depend entirely on this beautiful tranquil lake for their livelihood.
The sabji walas have their own island in the Dal Lake which is known as the world famous floating vegetable market. This floating vegetable market comprises many floating gardens as well local varieties of organic vegetables. It is one of the very famous floating markets in the world.
This vegetable market opens at 4’o clock in the morning even before the sun rises and closes within the next two hours. So, not everyone is lucky enough to visit this market due to its operating hours but for the enthusiastic souls, the time just doesn’t matter.
To have a glimpse of this floating market people spend their nights in the houseboats of Dal Lake and the next morning with the first sound of the morning prayers coming from the mosque, they hire a Shikara which row them to the floating market before dawn. It’s not an easy task to hire a Shikara early in the morning. So, tourists often book Shikaras in advance a night before visiting the floating market.
It takes 1 hour to reach this market and on the way you get to gaze at a lot of beautiful scenes which you might have never seen before. The chirpings of migrating birds, the splendid view of the horizon, and the soothing sounds of Dal Lake produced while rowing the Shikara are just not less than any dreamland.
More pleasant is the view when you actually reach the destination. As many as hundreds of boats adorned with all colors of fresh vegetables, the old Kashmiri women sowing seeds in some of the floating gardens accompanied by their grandchildren, the look of the sabzi walas dressed in their traditional wear, the way they bargain in Kashmiri local language, reflects the true sense of Kashmiriyat. In this wholesale vegetable market, the wealthy shopkeepers buy vegetables from the farmers, which are later sold in the market.
The vegetables are grown in Dal Lake itself on its fertile islands. Amidst this small exchange between one boat to another, some old friends also gather with their respective Shikaras at some point to gossip and smoke hookah. You may also some across some of the oldest and best Kashmiri architecture made of woods. These wooden houses, where the villagers stay, are one of the finest examples of Kashmiri art and culture.
This place is a must visit in order to find out how a life goes on for a local Kashmiri and for camera addicts this is one of the beautiful & best places to visit in Srinagar. To capture the view of Dal Lake’s floating market forever in your memories is not an easy task though but definitely worth it.