Kashmir Houseboat Operators Face Uncertain Future

10 March 2009
Voice of America
Shahnawaz Khan

Srinagar: Introduced by British Raj officials, Kashmir houseboats - long promoted as the picture of an ideal Kashmir holiday - are facing an uncertain future. The High Court of Kashmir has ordered the closure of houseboats discharging sewage into the deteriorating Dal Lake. Houseboat floats on Dal Lake in Srinagar, India (2007 file photo) Houseboat floats on Dal Lake in Srinagar, India (2007 File) It is a calm day at a houseboat in Kashmir's Dal Lake, a major tourist attraction in summer capital, Srinagar. Houseboat owner Muhammad Yaqoob speaks proudly about the famous people his houseboats have hosted. 'So far, we have accommodated [hosted] Mr. Zubin Mehta [Musician], late [Indian] Tourism Minister Madhavroa Scindia, Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, and Mrs. Indira Gandhi,' he said. Hoping, praying for good tourist season Yaqoob has been hoping and praying for a good tourist season. The conflict in the region has always put question marks on tourist seasons. Often, good seasons have turned topsy-turvy in a week. Yaqoob says they had just one good tourist month, last year, before a land disagreement stirred unrest in the region, ending the promising season prematurely.