You are currently viewing Kashmir Houseboats : A Short History – All you need to know about Kashmir’s famous houseboats

Kashmir Houseboats : A Short History – All you need to know about Kashmir’s famous houseboats

Imagine a kashmir honeymoon packages with a romantic evening spent on Dal Lake. Intricately carved cedar-wood railing, the boat house srinagar is anchored on Dal Lake’s outskirts and the most fancy part of the srinagar tour packages. A perfect kashmir trip with your partner is best at one of these boathouse in kashmir. Admire the beauty of Great Himalayas in the background and the best trip to Srinagar, on a houseboat. So here we will explore about Kashmir Houseboats.

But, before you embark on this floating paradise, let us illuminate a brief but fascinating history of houseboat in kashmir. Kashmir tourism relies on these one-of-a-kind houseboats to provide the experience that tourists seek. These houseboats are unlike those in Kerala’s backwaters. Ornate with mediaeval artwork, these boathouses will surely fixate you on first glance.

Shikaras are NOT Houseboats

The kashmir trip is incomplete without them. But like others, are you too unable to decide whether to call these boat- Shikara or Houseboats? Don’t get confused. They both are different kinds of boats, and play different commercial roles.

Shikaras, also known as Kashmiri Gondolas, are light flat-bottomed wooden boats found on Dal Lake and other bodies of water in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India. A must try ride in your kashmir tour packages. And, because of their various sizes they are used for a variety of purposes, including transportation, fishing, harvesting aquatic vegetation (usually for fodder), and, in some cases, as a residence. Tarpaulins may or may not be used to cover them.

A Houseboat, on the other hand, is a boat that has been designed or modified to be used primarily as a home. Some houseboats are not motorised because they are usually anchored, kept stationary at a fixed point, and frequently tethered to land to provide utilities.

A Tell-Tale or History?

Some claim that houseboats have been present on the Dal Lake and Nagin lakes since the 1800s. We do know that in the late nineteenth century, Srinagar’s boat-dwelling Hanji community began building floating homes or houseboats for English visitors and residents who were not permitted to own land in Kashmir.

Some trace the houseboat phenomenon back to the 1880s, to a shop owner named Pandit Naraindas, who catered to foreign tourists. When his shop burned down, as wooden structures do from time to time in Srinagar, it is said Naraindas moved his inventory to a small boat used by the boat-dwelling Hanjis and moored it. His became the first proper houseboats after some modifications. Naraindas later sold his boat to a European, saw the potential in the concept, and began commissioning boats. He became known as Naav Narain in the local community, and his first houseboat was named Kashmir Princess.

Tired of reading about Houseboats?

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However, Sir Francis Younghusband, a famous British explorer, is known to have credited the idea of a floating house. The first one MT Kennard was created between the years 1883 and 1888. Locals are said to have referred to these as “the boats of Kennad Sahib” for a long time. According to some, the Kashmiri lakes once had hundreds of houseboats floating in Kashmir by 1906.

The semi-cute, semi-hilarious names of Srinagar’s houseboats have a respectable lineage; the early European boats were named HB Duke Wells, or New Buckingham Palace, in honour of the settlers’ memories and sensibilities. However, how this led to our modern beauty bobbing on the Dal New Soul Kiss remains a source of lively interest.

History aside, as per the old folks who have lived here for generations, claims something a different origin story of these houseboats. According to them, the presence of these houseboats in Kashmir valley lakes is mentioned in ancient Kashmiri literature dating back to the 13th century. And it was for personal use rather than tourism to kashmir lakes. Today, these houseboats are a major tourist attraction in every kashmir tour!

A Generation-Old Sailing Art

These houseboats preserve the cultural heritage of Kashmiris. As previously stated, these boats were a part of Kashmiri culture, and the art of making them was passed down through generations. It is still the case.

It has become very popular among art enthusiasts and others. These carved Wooden Boats showcase the exquisite art of wood carvings representing Kashmiri life and culture, as well as the fine craftsmanship of Kashmiri artisans. Mostly featuring Chinar trees, which are so important in Kashmiri life.

Besides during the times of flooding, only houseboat owners are unaffected. Regardless of how high or low the water level is, the boats would simply float on it.

Take a look at some of the local cuisines in Kashmir. Go through our Kashmiri food blog exploring the local delicacies of the valley. Click here, to check out Foods Above Clouds- Kashmir Edition.

Find out more about our other kashmir tour package, including kashmir honeymoon packages, srinagar tour packages and other custom made tours and trips. And, to read more about such travel trivia, keep reading our blog .

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