Floating Vegetable and Flowers Market on Dal Lake, Srinagar

Located within Srinagar's iconic Dal Lake, the Floating Vegetable Market of Srinagar, is a place where Kashmiris living within the lake buy their daily fruit and vegetable supplies. Of course, the lake is famous already for it's houseboats, but the floating market is essential for life to function within the lake.

It's a place to visit if you want to observe how life goes on for an local Kashmiri, and its also a great place for photography. Read on to know more about the floating market along with my tips and suggestions.

srinagar floating vegetable and flower market dal lake

Floating Vegetable Market of Srinagar

Srinagar's floating vegetable market is one of the few such market in the world, and other one is in Vietnam (some say there is another one in Thailand as well). I didn't know this when I went there. In fact, it was my mom who told me about this when I showed her the pictures afterwards :)

Just as all aspects of life for people living in the Dal lake are centered around water, so is shopping, especially vegetable shopping. Hence this daily floating market gains high importance - this is sort of a wholesale market where small and big shopkeepers (floating boat-shops) buy vegetables from vegetable growers and then go off in their boats to houseboats and other small villages within the lake and sell these to them. Apparently most of these are grown within and around Dal itself.

I was intrigued by the market from the time I heard about it but could visit it only on my last day in the city. And it was quite an experience just being there. It's also a photographer's paradise, the morning light is lovely and the colourful vegetables, fruits and flowers on the boats look gorgeous!

srinagar floating vegetable and flower market dal lake
Market early in the morning
srinagar floating vegetable and flower market dal lake
The boats keep bumping into each other al the time
srinagar floating vegetable and flower market dal lake
Having sold everything he had, he waits for his friends

Preparation to go to the vegetable market

The market starts fairly early in the morning so you need to leave your houseboat/ hotels pretty early too. Its good to be there by 5am if you want to experience the hustle bustle of the market and get some nice shots. If you living in a houseboat, make sure you fix a shikara as well as the price the previous evening itself, it won't be possible to get any shikaras at this hour! Negotiate well -we paid Rs 700 for our shikara, but this will also depend on which part of Dal you start from. We started at around 4.30 am from our houseboat and reached just when everyone was just assembling there. The journey from the houseboat to the market is quite an interesting one and presents many interesting photography opportunities. The light is quite low and you are constantly moving so low shutter speeds do not work for conventional pictures, but it does create a very dreamlike image. Even though it was June, the morning was a bit foggy.

At the Vegetable Market

The next couple of hours were spent taking photographs and making small talk with some of the vegetable vendors, which is rather tough as they are quite busy at this hour. As the market vanes later in the morning, you can see them smoking and gossiping between themselves. Many linger around for quite sometime to make small talk.

srinagar floating vegetable and flower market dal lake
The friends chatting up
srinagar floating vegetable and flower market dal lake
The wooden pathway...

Even as Mayank was very busy capturing the images, I decided to give my camera some rest and sat around for a while and chatted up with another boatsman who was sitting close by and smoking. I had no specific questions to ask, so the chatter was more about what I do and what he does. I learnt nothing of great importance, but it was a nice to be there with him anyway :)

Practical tip!

On the practical side, it would be great to not drink too much water before you go. The market is floating and things can get tricky if you need to relieve yourself. And I can say this from my personal experience :) I really needed to pee about an hour after we reached and struggled to find any discreet spot on the lake. Finally I walked into the nearest village (its connected by the a small wooden pathway over water) and asked an old lady who immediately giggled and showed me the bathroom :) So basically do not hesitate and just respectfully ask!

Bird watching on the return journey...

Keep the camera ready on the way back as well. The sun would be up and light would be just perfect for pictures. For lovers of bird photography, there would be ample opportunities to capture them as well. Some of them even come quite close to the boats. Migratory birds have also started flocking to the the lake, especially in the winters. There have been some unfortunate stories of them being killed, but in most cases the locals welcome them as they also lure photographers and bird enthusiast to the area. The birds primarily come from Russia, Turkey, China and Philippines. Even rare species like Brahmini ducks have been spotted here. Other common birds include Greylag geese, Mallards, Pintails, Gladwalls etc.

Now next on my agenda is to visit the floating market in Vietnam! I am sure it's going to be an experience...

srinagar floating vegetable and flower market dal lake
Going back with boat full of fresh vegetables

Other Floating markets of the world

Srinagar is not the only place with such floating markets, there is one in Kerala also, which is quite popular with the tourists.

Asia certainly seems to be leading when it comes to floating vegetable markets :) Following is a list of a few some more such popular markets in the world:
  1. Damnoen Saduak floating market in Ratchaburi, Thailand
  2. Floating market in the Solomon Islands
  3. Bangkok’s Taling Chan floating market
  4. Floating Markets at Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Comments

  1. Beautiful captures from the place.
    What a life they lead!
    I hope to visit some day.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is quite the experience. What a charming little market. It's quite an early wake up call to go there though :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks man. Yes, it is very early to go for shopping and photography both :)

      Delete
  3. Nice picture from float market.Why only men in the market?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sid surely this is great man ..... Waiting for next post from vietnam

    ReplyDelete

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