Himalayan Safari Tales #3 – Srinagar: The Bazaar and the Conversations

“A few centuries before the Christ, the Athenians developed ‘agora’ as a place of palaver, long parley or conversation, which doubled as a location for exchanging goods and services. With some variation this pattern repeated across the ancient world. From Persia to India, market places came to be known as ‘bazar’, derived from the Pahlavi term ‘vacar’ or ‘baha-char’, meaning the ‘place of prices’. And yet the bazaar was as much a place for social connectedness as for striking a deal and determining the ‘price’”

from Bazaars, conversations and freedom by Rajni Bakshi


The Dal lake by itself is an eco-system. Small island villages with families including animals, house boats docked closer to the owners’/keepers’ houses, the floating morning market and traders trying to sell their wares to tourists on a shikara ride. Large shops that sell everything from garments to groceries on boats docked permanently in the lake. The floating morning market happens at a ‘village square’ – except that it is not a square and it is in water. Traders exchange their merchandise including vegetables to chocolates to flowers while some sip the hot Kashmir tea ‘Khawa’.



Families perhaps owned small boats for their conveyance across the lake, as many of us own cycles or motor bikes in the plains. Women and small children were at ease with their boats and the oars.



We were keen to speak to a few people to understand what is that they feel about the Kashmir issue. And reactions were mixed. Everyone had their own interpretation of history, why Kashmir should be a freed (from both India and Pakistan). Some of them consider their roots in Iran and Iran’s spiritual leader as their own leader. It is perhaps more complex than it seems. Or is made complex with leaders driving different political agendas. One thing clear is that the average Kashmiri yearns for a peaceful life far away from terrorism and counter-terrorism.



Photo Credits: 1,2 & 3 – Arif Khan

One comment on “Himalayan Safari Tales #3 – Srinagar: The Bazaar and the Conversations

  1. Beautiful post. I think you need to upgrade your camera. This is vital. Secondly the drink you said ‘Khawa’ is “Kahawa” meaning black coffee. Such market places on the lake could be encountered in Tazakistaan. I think Dal lake is also at the same elavation.

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