Shikara ride awaits tourists at Purulia lake

A piece of Kashmir will now be available in Purulia.

By ABHIJEET CHATTERJEE
  • Published 12.09.18
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The three shikaras at Saheb Bandh in Purulia. Picture by Biswanath Roy

Purulia: A piece of Kashmir will now be available in Purulia.

The Purulia municipality has introduced a shikara (wooden boat) ride like in Dal Lake in Kashmir to promote tourism in the district.

At present, three shikaras have been brought in from Kashmir for rides on the 50-acre artificial lake - Saheb Bandh.

The rides will be run on a PPP model with a Kashmir-based shikara operator.

The chairman of Purulia municipality, Shamimdad Khan, said he got the idea when he had visited Kashmir with his family last year.

The project was inaugurated by Paschimanchal Development minister Shantiram Mahato on Tuesday.

Three shikaras were brought to Purulia last month.

Sources in the Purulia civic body said tourists bound for Ayodhya Hills or other locations in the district could have a shikara ride by paying between Rs 500 and Rs 300 for five persons depending on the duration.

"I went to Kashmir a year ago and enjoyed the shikara ride on Dal Lake with my family. I decided to introduce it for the tourists as well as residents of Purulia in Saheb Bandh lake. I approached one of the shikara operators in Kashmir for the purpose," said Shamimdad Khan, the chairman of the Trinamul-run Purulia municipality.

The civic body has tied up with New Kashmir Wood Enterprises, which is based in northern state and makes and operate shikara on Dal Lake.

"I have bought three shikaras and will bring seven more soon. I am expecting good business here as the tourists would get the chance to take a shikara ride without going to Kashmir," said Mohammad Rafik, the owner of the company that operates 30 shikaras at Dal Lake.

Initially, only hourly ride will be offered and if the project attracts good number of tourists, there is a plan to introduce houseboats where tourists can spend the night along with food and lodging facilities.

The municipality will charge a fee of Rs 10 froma tourist to enter Saheb Bandh and an annual licence fee from the firm that conducts shikara rides.

The licence fee will be one percent of the profit earned by the company.

Civic body sources said they had also developed and cleaned Saheb Bandh as part of its mission to develop Purulia as one of the popular tourist destinations in Bengal following instruction from chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

"We are also constructing a cafeteria where tourists can have refreshments and setting up stalls where popular Purulia handicrafts like Chhau masks will be sold," said Khan.

The forest department has already developed a jogger track around the lake for morning walkers.

Saheb Bandh was built during British rule. The work started in 1843 and finished within five years.

The lake is also home to migratory birds in winter.