Two brothers from Zurimanz hamlet in North Kashmir’s Bandipora district created the first-ever shikara and launched it in Wular, the biggest freshwater lake in Asia, in an effort to boost tourism at the well-known Wular Lake. 

Firdous Ahmad Bhat, 42, and Ghulam Hassan, 40, came up with the idea to improve their means of sustenance and entice more visitors to the lake.

Talking to Rising Kashmir, Firdous stated that it took them many days to build the shikara with the aim of attracting tourists to the lake. 

Despite being the best water place to explore, the lake has always seen less footfall from tourists.

“Wular is a beautiful lake. Visitors or tourists who come to Kashmir from different parts of India should visit this lake as it has all the beauty  to add to enthral nature lovers,” said Firdous. 

He also highlighted the need to save the lake from pollution, as it is not only a source of income for thousands of fishermen but also a vital part of the ecosystem.

Mudasir Mehmood Walur Conservation Management Authority Coordinator (WUCMA) told Rising Kashmir that the department has made four more shikaras available, which will be provided to the locals so that more jobs will be generated in the village besides will help in exploring the lake’s beauty.

Locals have welcomed the brothers’ efforts, with many hailing it as a great step towards revitalizing the forgotten lake.

“In the past two years, local tourists have started visiting the village after the forest department introduced boat services, but it is limited to VIPs,” said a local photographer Tawseef Ahmad.

The introduction of the shikara is expected to increase footfall as more people begin to explore the lake’s beauty. 

However, Tawseef Ahmad stressed the need for the government to put more effort into restoring the lake’s lost glory and work on its development.

The government’s focus on boosting tourism and improving the livelihood of the fishermen community may make the shikara service a turning point for the area. 

Tourists from outside have also started arriving in the village after people took note of them on social media.

The introduction of the shikara is a step towards promoting sustainable tourism and raising awareness about the importance of preserving the lake’s ecosystem.

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