The Merchants of Dal Lake

Srinagar Travel Blog

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Factosoon's store
 

Just about anything that was sold in the tailor shops or grocery stores of Srinagar could also be purchased right on the lake. Precarious shops dotted the backwaters. Most were weathered wooden shacks either free-standing or tucked between equally rustic houseboats of local Kashmiris. Customers paddled right up to the merchant and made transactions without setting foot on land. Factosoon's was such a 'general store' and nearest to the Erin. Chris and I stopped there to buy Kashmiri firepots - complete with burning coals - then again on occasion to replenish candles for our hut.

 

Dozens of other merchants sold a wide variety of goods from prowling shikharas.

Grocery shikhara on Dal Lake
Some tended to seek out foreigners to pitch a sale. Since we already wore farons, they sometimes tied up to our dock and offloaded bundles of other fabrics like embroidered table cloth sets, colorful tapestries, or materials for tailor-made clothing. Some, less fortunate, offered roasted water-chestnuts or other locally grown products like almonds, cardamom seeds, or saffron .

 

The busiest of all the floating merchants seemed to be the grocers. Their shikharas were well stocked with everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to soft drinks, cigarettes, spices, canned foods, and a wide assortment of dry goods. They crept the lake in random patterns catering to locals as well as foreigners. They were also the least aggressive. They'd slowly paddle past the Erin knowing that if we wanted something we would let them know with a shout or a wave. Chris and I preferred paddling out to them, always happy to have a 'mission' like teenagers with a brand new drivers license.

 

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Factosoons store
Factosoon's store
Grocery shikhara on Dal Lake
Grocery shikhara on Dal Lake
Grocery shikhara
Grocery shikhara
Cardamom seeds and saffron
Cardamom seeds and saffron
Chris shopping
Chris shopping
Harvest from the lotus gardens
Harvest from the lotus gardens
Tailor shop
Tailor shop
Grocery shikharas at the Erin
Grocery shikharas at the Erin
Grocery and taxi hikharas
Grocery and taxi hikharas
Srinagar
photo by: vishal_