Sunday, January 29, 2012

Special Cover: Floating Post Office and Museum, Dal Lake - Srinagar

Date of Issue: August 22, 2011

India Post - Jammu & Kashmir Circle, Srinagar issued two special covers on occasion of inauguration of India's first Floating Post Office and Museum at Dal Lake, Srinagar.

Dal Lake:  a lake in Srinagar, the summer capital of the northernmost Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The urban lake, which is the second largest in the state, is integral to tourism and recreation in Kashmir and is nicknamed the "Jewel in the crown of Kashmir" or "Srinagar's Jewel." The lake is popular as a visitor attraction and a summer resort. Swimming, boating, snow skiing (particularly when the lake is frozen during the severe winter), and canoeing are amongst some of the water sports activities practiced on the lake.

Houseboats:  Houseboats and the Dal Lake are widely associated with Srinagar and are nicknamed "floating palaces", built according to British customs. The houseboats are generally made from local cedar-wood and measure 24–38 metres (79–125 ft) in length and 3–6 metres (9.8–20 ft) in width and are graded in a similar fashion to hotels according to level of comfort. One such boat is now converted into a "Floating Post Office and Museum."

Besides offering normal services, the place is also having a philately museum and a shop that will sell postage stamps and other products. In addition, pictorial postmark (see image on right) is introduced showing Shikara, which will attract tourists.

Shikara:  A shikara is small paddled taxi boat, often about 15 feet (4.6 m) long) and made of wood with a canopy and a spade shaped bottom. It is the cultural symbol of Kashmir and is used not only for ferrying visitors but is also used for the vending of fruits, vegetables and flowers and for the fishing and harvesting of aquatic vegetation. A shikara can seat about six people and have heavily cushioned seats and backrests to provide comfort in Mughul style. 

All houseboat owners provide shikara transport to their house guests free of charge. The shikara is also used to provide for other sightseeing locations in the valley, notably a cruise along the Jhelum River, offering scenic views of the Pir Panjal mountains and passing through the famous seven bridges and the backwaters enroute.

Text source: Wikipedia

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