Floating Vegetable Market, Dal Lake.

Dal lake, world famous for it’s sheer beauty & scenic location is home to one of it’s kind “Floating vegetable market”. The floating vegetable market is a wholesale market & is located at Kand mohalla, abikar pora in the heart of the Dal lake. This market is the only floating vegetable market in India & only the second in the world which is around 100 to 150 years old.

To see this beautiful & colorful market, I stayed at a houseboat for the night because the floating vegetable market starts very early in the morning. I asked the Shikara-wala to come very early the next morning & he assured me he’ll come pick me up from my houseboat after the morning prayers. I woke up quite early the next morning and I set off in my Shikara at around 5:30 AM.

Dal lake & Shikara ride in the early morning.

The calm & stillness of the Dal lake in the morning is a therapy to the soul. From my houseboat, the floating vegetable market was about half an hour away. On my way to the market, I got to see the backwaters of the Dal lake which many people often ignore to visit when they visit the Dal lake but it’s a different experience all together. I got to see the houses of people who live in the islands of the Dal lake, provisional as well as medical shops, ducks & a variety of migratory birds, gardens where people grow the vegetables which are later traded in the vegetable market. I had quite a chat with the Shikara-wala where we discussed the day to day lives of the people here, the nature of all sorts of tourists who visit Kashmir & how the tourism has declined because of the ongoing turmoil & conflict in Kashmir.

Houses of people living in Dal lake.

After half an hour or so, we reached the floating vegetable market & it was a sight to relish. The market was so vibrant, filled with the hustle-bustle of the boatmen who had come to buy & sell the vegetables. I got off the Shikara, onto a bridge from where I witnessed the bargaining & haggling of the vegetable vendors.

The one of it’s kind- Floating vegetable market.

 I knew I couldn’t get any of them to talk while they were so busy, so I took a stroll from that wooden bridge to the interiors of the Dal lake & the view was absolutely mesmerizing. The sun was starting to come out from behind the mountains of the Zabarwan range and it all looked too good to be true.

Mesmerizing view of the Dal interiors at sunrise, Kashmir.

I came back towards the vegetable market after sometime & most of the business for the day was done, so I asked a vegetable vendor, Nissar who had just finished selling off his vegetables about the vegetable market & he was too kind to share his experiences regarding the vegetable market. He even offered me a freshly cut cucumber which tasted amazingly good. We chatted for quite sometime and he said and I quote” I have been trading vegetables here for nearly 20 years now. All the vegetables that are grown and traded in the floating vegetable market are grown in the natural wetlands of the Dal lake & are totally organic with no use of chemicals or pesticides. The only fertilizer used is the weed that grows in the Dal lake. I make sure that all the vegetables that I sell are first cleaned and the boat in which I take the vegetables for selling is also cleaned”

Veteran of the Floating vegetable market, Srinagar – Kashmir.

The floating vegetable market runs throughout the year. In the summer, the market starts at 5:30 in the morning till 7 & in the winter, the market starts at 7 till 9 AM. In the peak of the tourist season, people who visit are often treated with the traditional Kashmiri kehwa & often you’ll find the flower vendors with bouquets of flowers with all sorts of beautiful flowers for the people visiting the floating market. I talked to a few locals who were present at the market and everyone had their insights on the market but one quite interesting remark was when a man in his mid-forties said that the foreigners especially the Europeans are much more well aware & fascinated by the floating vegetable market than the tourists visiting from India or the locals of Kashmir. This particular analogy got me thinking about how the regular practice of visiting the floating vegetable market for the purpose of buying vegetables can benefit the community as a whole. If the locals of the valley make it a regular practice to visit the floating vegetable market, It can not only be a source of income for the vegetable vendors but for people like Shikara-walas, the flower vendors, people selling tea & kehwa and so many more & the people buying the vegetables would in turn get fresh & clean vegetables at much cheaper rates than in a regular market. Moreover, the weed removal which is done for the purpose of fertilization of the vegetables doesn’t only benefit the vegetable vendors but also helps to keep the Dal lake clean. So, for the locals of the valley I would suggest visiting this amazing, unique floating vegetable market every time you visit the Dal lake for a morning stroll & for the people visiting Kashmir, make sure you keep the floating vegetable market high on your travel-list & see for yourself the distinctive and uniqueness of this bustling market. 

A vegetable vendor sorting out his vegetables.
Rowing off with clean, fresh veggies – Dal lake, Kashmir.

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