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Saving The Beauty of Kashmiri Houseboats

22 September

Saving The Beauty of Kashmiri Houseboats

Tourism happens to be the backbone of Kashmir’s economy. It is one such tourist destination in India that has been welcoming the domestic and international travelers throughout the year. The beautiful kashmir houseboats which came to exist during the colonial rule have become a big part of the tourism landscape now. They have contributed greatly to the economy of Kashmir. From pollution issues to difficulties during the pandemic, it is high time we must save the beautiful houseboats of Kashmir.

The Importance of Houseboats in Kashmir 

For many, houseboats happen to be their homes and only source of income. This income is essential for various reasons. Of course, so that the house owners can survive themselves and the maintenance and renovation of their houseboats. Since the bottom base of houseboats is always on the water, there is a need for regular servicing to ensure it can withstand damage.

Due to increased tourism, there was rising pollution which prompted the government to ban houseboats on waterways during the 1980s. In 2010, all construction work relating to houseboats were banned in the vicinity of Dal Lake Kashmir . It also included the building of new houseboats. Several other measures were taken that hurt the livelihood of houseboat owners. The court demanded that the authorities not renew the licences of the houseboats after expiring without special permission. That made it difficult for owners to maintain schedules for repairs and renovation. 

These houseboats are vital to the livelihood of the owners, but they are also crucial elements of Kashmir’s heritage. We all have a responsibility towards the planet and the environment. The pollution concerns in Srinagar are real, and they must be dealt with to maintain the culture of Houseboats for the future. Over the last few decades, Srinagar’s Dal and Nigeen Lakes have shrunk dramatically. The encroachment on the lakes must be dealt with expeditiously as well. 

Why Must We Take Care of Houseboats

Houseboat owners cannot control the pollution levels themselves as most of it comes from the residents who live in the houses by the lake and the hotels that empty their drains into the lake. The number of houseboats is quickly dwindling along with the craftsmen who know to construct them. If we lose the houseboats of Kashmir, we might not be able to get them back.

Facilities at Kolu Houseboats

Distinct Features of Kashmiri Waterway Life

However, houseboat owners need help in two regards. Firstly, they are doing their best to repair and renovate their houseboats, which isn’t very easy considering the length and tediousness of the procedure for permission. By the time they gain approval, their boats get damaged further. Hence it is vital to support them in maintaining the heritage of Kashmir.

Secondly, the cost of repairing the houseboats is not possible to efficiently source the rare Cedarwood houseboats are made from. It is only found in north Kashmir forests. Moreover, the various parts of houseboats are made by different types of craftspeople. Hence, we must support them in every way possible so we can maintain the legacy of Kashmir to the best possible extent to help retain the region’s heritage.  

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