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Fourways Travels


    Srinagar's floating vegetable market is only the second such market in the world, and other one is in Vietnam (some say there is another one in Thailand as well). I didn't know this when I went there. In fact, it was my mom who told me about this when I showed her the pictures afterwards :)

    Just as all aspects of life for people living in the Dal lake are centred around water, so is shopping, especially vegetable shopping. Hence this daily floating market gains high importance - this is sort of a wholesale market where small and big shopkeepers (floating boat-shops) buy vegetables from vegetable growers and then go off in their boats to houseboats and other small villages within the lake and sell these to them. Apparently most of these are grown within and around Dal itself.

    I was intrigued by the market from the time I heard about it but could visit it only on my last day in the city. And it was quite an experience just being there. It's also a photographer's paradise, the morning light is lovely and the colourful vegetables, fruits and flowers on the boats look gorgeous!

    srinagar floating vegetable market dal lake
    Market early in the morning

    srinagar floating vegetable market dal lake
    The boats keep bumping into each other al the time

    srinagar floating vegetable market dal lake
    Having sold everything he had, he waits for his friends

    The market starts fairly early in the morning so you need to leave your houseboat/ hotels pretty early too. Its good to be there by 5am if you want to experience the hustle bustle of the market and get some nice shots. If you living in a houseboat, make sure you fix a shikara as well as the price the previous evening itself, it won't be possible to get any shikaras at this hour! Negotiate well -we paid Rs 700 for our shikara, but this will also depend on which part of Dal you start from. We started at around 4.30 am from our houseboat and reached just when everyone was just assembling there. The next couple of hours were spent taking photographs and making small talk with some of the vegetable vendors, which is rather tough as they are quite busy at this hour. As the market vanes later in the morning, you can see them smoking and gossiping between themselves. Many linger around for quite sometime to make small talk.

    srinagar floating vegetable market dal lake
    Some gorgeous red carrots

    srinagar floating vegetable market dal lake
    The friends chatting up

    srinagar floating vegetable market dal lake
    The wooden pathway...

    On the practical side, it would be great to not drink too much water before you go. The market is floating and things can get tricky if you need to relieve yourself. And I can say this from my personal experience :) I really needed to pee about an hour after we reached and struggled to find any discreet spot on the lake. Finally I walked into the nearest village (its connected by the a small wooden pathway over water) and asked an old lady who immediately giggled and showed me the bathroom :) So basically do not hesitate and just respectfully ask!

    Now next on my agenda is to visit the floating market in Vietnam! I am sure it's going to be an experience...

    srinagar floating vegetable market dal lake
    Going back with boat full of fresh vegetables
    -- By Siddhartha Joshi