The Telegraph
Thursday , January 23 , 2014
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Kashmiri shikara ride in heart of Guwahati
- For Rs 30, get flavour of Dal Lake as tourism dept plies two traditional boats at Dighalipukhuri

Guwahati, Jan. 22: The historic tank of Dighalipukhuri now has the flavour of Dal Lake.

So while you may not be in Kashmir, basking in the beauty of Dal Lake, a comfortable ride on a shikara can make you feel like being there and, if the mood is right, hum the evergreen number Deewana Hua Badal of the sixties’ classic Kashmir Ki Kali.

The Assam Tourism Development Corporation Limited (ATDCL) recently introduced two shikaras at the man-made pond to give visitors a comfortable ride.

“We decided to introduce the shikaras in Dighalipukhuri because the pond is a hotspot where people come in large numbers to enjoy boat rides. This water tank also happens to be the only waterbody in the city where people can safely enjoy a boat ride,” said ATDCL managing director Anurag Singh.

And these shikaras are already adding to the pond’s charm. In the afternoon and evenings — couples, young and old, and families can be seen enjoying a leisurely cruise while the canopy above the beautifully designed boats protects them from the sun.

Compared to the contemporary paddleboats that can accommodate only two persons at a time, these traditional Kashmiri boats can accommodate four to five persons easily. They are also quite affordable, too, as a 30-minute ride costs Rs 30.

But unlike the original Kashmiri shikaras that are made from wood, the ones at Dighalipukhuri are made of fibre. “We have procured the shikaras from a Calcutta firm and they have been modified to suit the water conditions here. Unlike the wooden ones, these have been made from a fibre-like material. One shikara costs around Rs 1.2 lakh. These shikaras are comfortable and four-five people can comfortably sit inside them, while the boatman operates it with the help of oars,” Singh said.

“We have received a good response and more people are opting for rides on the shikara because of the comfort factor. We are planning to procure more such boats for Dighalipukhuri in the near future,” he said.

ATDCL, which completed 25 years last year, was recently issued the coveted ISO 9001:2008 certificate. “We have upgraded our working capacity in terms of better infrastructure, better accounting and upgrade of human resources. The corporation has also given due attention to tourism marketing and the publicity needs of the state. A roadmap of the same will be prepared soon. Upgrade of existing tourism infrastructure and better management is the priority of the corporation” Singh added.

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