Two decades ago, Kashmiri houseboat-owners rubbed their hands every spring at the of the annual influx of tourists. From May to October, the hyacinth-choked waters of Dal Lake saw flotillas of vividly painted shikaras carrying Indian families, boho westerners, young travellers and wide-eyed Japanese. Carpet-sellers their skills, as did purveyors of anything remotely embroidered while the houseboats initiated by the British Raj provided unusual accommodation. The economy boomed. Then, in 1989, separatist and Islamist militancy struck and everything changed. Hindus and countless Kashmiri business people bolted, at least 35,000 people were killed in a decade, the lake stagnated and the houseboats rotted. Any foreigners venturing there risked their – proved in 1995 when five young Europeans were kidnapped and murdered.
|Title||14- Kashmiri houseboat|
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