Tourists Can Now Visit Srinagar's History Cruising Down Jhelum13 May 2011
Srinagar: A cruise along river Jhelum snaking through Srinagar city and giving a sneak-peek of the state summer capital's rich history is part of a new itinerary made by the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism department for tourists. Six years since it was conceived, following a drive to beautify the Bund (banks) along the river, the state government finally flagged off the first river cruise yesterday. The cruise will open a rare window for tourists and locals to explore Srinagar city and its historic old city in a motor boat which will take them underneath bridges which have a history of over a hundred years. River Jhelum courses through most of the old city and has been the lifeline for residents for hundreds of years. 'The objective of launching the motor boat cruise in river Jehlum is to provide tourists and locals an opportunity to explore the city from a different perspective,' state Tourism Minister Nawang Rigzin Jora said. Most of the shrines and temples in Srinagar's old city are located on the banks of the river and the tourists will have a rare glimpse of these historic places. Many of those who lived in Srinagar's old city moved to the outskirts towards the end of the last century. 'Like most ancient cities, Srinagar had also initially developed on the banks of the river Jhelum and old buildings that have stood the test of time hold a great historical and cultural significance today due to their unique architecture,' Jora said. The cruise will initially operate from Peerzoo Island near Lal Chowk to Khankahi Maula shrine in the old city. 'Depending upon the response, the (tourism) department will introduce more motor boats,' Jora said. Peerzoo Island, which will be the starting point of the cruise, is located near the Srinagar Bund which lies on the historical timeline of the valley. The Bund was once the Orient's answer to Venice and very few addresses evoked the same romance and mystique as this stretch of land along the banks of Jhelum which was also the site where house-boats first started. Jammu and Kashmir government had started beautification of the bund six years ago, and since then the place has regained much of its former beauty with nicely tended parks and stone-walled stretches of river banks. The Tourism ministry is also looking to include the traditional Shikaras as part of the cruise, an tourism department official said.