In Pictures: India’s timeless floating market lives on

The famed floating market of Dal Lake has been a hub for farmers and vendors for generations. Since the 1960s, the market has attracted tourists seeking a unique glimpse of life in the Kashmir Valley.

Dal Lake spreads over an area of 7 to 8 1/2 square miles, a sheet of water reflecting the carved wooden balconies of houseboats and the misty peaks of the Pir Panjal Range. The lake supports a small city, with floating houses, schools, and markets. There’s even a post office.

At the sabji bazaar (vegetable market), vendors gather on the lake’s tributaries at daybreak and wrap up just as sunlight touches the water.

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Marketplaces offer more than just economic goods. The floating market of Dal Lake serves as a vibrant meeting point for this Kashmir community.

The floating gardens are created by weaving roots and branches into mats and filling them with silt and algae. Farmers produce a variety of vegetables, such as tomatoes; cucumbers; and nadru, or lotus stems, a delicacy in Kashmiri cuisine.

People from all walks of life come together in this vibrant market, creating a sense of unity and opportunity. Amid unrest and political instability in the region, the floating market is a lifeline. It provides a livelihood for thousands of people, from flower sellers to vegetable growers.

To protect the fragile habitat, visitors are encouraged to take shikaras, traditional boats propelled by a rower, instead of motorized vessels. A boat trip is a fitting way to experience the vibrancy of Dal Lake.

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Nazir Ahmed, a flower grower, says the floating market is “the bread provider for all the locals living around the lake.”

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On a hot day, children swim in the lake’s cool waters.

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At day’s end, farmers wait to buy bread from the baker, who travels from a nearby area to sell his fresh loaves.

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Hussain and Amir, residents of the Dal Lake area in Srinagar, India, wait for clients from Dubai at the floating market.