Kashmiri Shikara: A History of the Iconic Boat of Kashmir

dal lake srinagar kashmir

Kashmiri shikara is a traditional wooden boat that is native to the beautiful valley of Kashmir. These boats are unique to Kashmir and are an essential part of the state’s tourism industry. The shikaras are used for transportation, fishing, and for taking tourists on a ride across the picturesque Dal Lake in Srinagar. The history of shikaras dates back to the Mughal era, and these boats have remained unchanged for centuries.

The word “shikara” is derived from the Sanskrit word “Sakar,” which means to design. The design of the shikara is a perfect blend of Kashmiri and Mughal architecture. These boats are built with cedar wood, which is abundant in the valley. The boats are 20-25 feet long and 5-6 feet wide, and they are designed to glide smoothly through the water. The unique design of the boat makes it easy to maneuver even in the narrowest of canals.

The shikara has a flat bottom, which makes it very stable. The boat is propelled by a single oar, which is operated by the boatman, also known as “Shikarawalla.” The boatman skillfully maneuvers the boat through the water, making it a comfortable and smooth ride for the passengers.

The shikara was originally designed as a means of transportation for the people of Kashmir. However, over time, it has become an integral part of the valley’s tourism industry. The shikaras are beautifully decorated with vibrant colors and intricate designs, making them an attraction in themselves. Tourists can take a ride on the shikara and enjoy the scenic beauty of the Dal Lake, which is surrounded by the majestic Himalayas.

The shikara has also become a symbol of the Kashmiri culture. The boat is an essential part of the valley’s folklore, and it has been featured in several Kashmiri songs and poems. The shikara is a reflection of the valley’s rich history and culture, and it is an excellent example of the artistic craftsmanship of the Kashmiri people.

In addition to transportation and tourism, the shikara is also used for fishing. The boat is equipped with a small net that is used to catch fish in the Dal Lake. Fishing is an essential part of the Kashmiri economy, and the shikara plays a significant role in the fishing industry.

In conclusion, the Kashmiri shikara is a unique boat that is an essential part of the valley’s tourism industry. The boat’s design reflects the rich history and culture of the valley, and it is a symbol of the Kashmiri people’s artistic craftsmanship. The shikara has remained unchanged for centuries, and it continues to be an integral part of the valley’s economy and folklore.

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