J&K | Winter Tourists Go On Shikara Rides To Glide on Frozen Ice of Srinagar’s Dal Lake People from India and abroad are coming to visit Kashmir in large numbers, reported Kashmir Ahead team. And Dal Lake is the central attraction of Kashmir. Team talked to a shikara (boat) owner, Ahmed, to ascertain how much he benefitted from the tourist influx. Ahmed resided nearby the Dal Lake in an area where around 22 villages are existing. Ahmed thinks in the New Year tourists have increased because of Srinagar Smart City. And the city got a boost compared to the previous years. Tourism grows during the snowfall period between December, January and February, Ahmed informed. Currently, the higher regions of J&K are experiencing snowfall like in Sonamarg, Gulmarg and Pahalgam. Hopefully, in the months of January and February, Srinagar will see snowfall, said Ahmed. During snowfall, the business of the locals gets a boost and a nice interaction is witnessed between the tourists and the Kashmiri locals. The hospitality of the locals is one factor why tourism is rising here, Ahmed said. Dal Lake is the heart of Kashmir, informed Ahmed, the shikara owner. He arrives at the Dal Lake at eight in the morning to give tourists a ride in his shikara. How does your shikara glide on the frozen ice? Kashmir Ahead team was curious to know. Much to our surprise, the young shikara owner, Ahmed, talking fluently in English replied that he would like to show how his shikara glides on the ice. He said how the Dal Lake gets completely frozen during winters. (But science tells you that lakes and ponds never freeze from the bottom up. Only the top layer of water gets frozen as ice. This is winter stratification). So Ahmed uses his shikara paddle to break the ice formed at the topmost layer of the Dal Lake and glide through the water. This is how I make my way, Ahmed explained. The shikara owners are designated their numbers and have to wait in queue for their chance. Ahmed takes the tourist on his shikara to see a number of tourist spots like the Golden Wave, Nehru Garden, Floating Market (this is the second floating market after Bangkok), Asia’s Largest Lake, and Meena Bazaar (the main wholesale market). Ahmed acts as the tourist guide informing the tourists intricate details. The Dal Lake is spread on 22 sq km. Its length is 7.4 km and width is 3.4 km. Earlier, foreigners used to come more. Now people from Kerala, Gujarat, and all the other states come to visit Kashmir. Do you have any message for the people who are afraid to come to Kashmir? Team Kashmir Ahead asked Ahmed. Social media represented Kashmir as a terrorist state. It spread rumours about Kashmir, Ahmed said. Kashmir is not what is being reported by the adverse media. When people come here they see the reality with their own eyes, Ahmed said. When we interact with customers, they realise that Kashmir is not ruled by terrorism there’s a different kind of atmosphere here. There is peace here, said Ahmed, a local Kashmiri shikara owner.