The Dal Lake hosted its first ever ‘Culture of Cruise’, a weeekly cultural programme organised by the Jammu and Kashmir government aimed to bring artists from various fields on one stage. “The innovative programme series brings writers, performance artistes, musicians, poets and academics together and offers a programme of performances, workshops, talks, forums and debates,” said Aziz Hajini, secretary, J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages (JKAACL). The JKAACL launched the event in association with the tourism department of Kashmir. Hajini said that he is looking forward to hosting such events on regular basis through summer and autumn on the waters of the lake. “There’s something really magical about listening to music and talks especially on running waters and it’s wonderful to remember that and to make the effort to organise it,” he said.
In the festival, the organisers would hold regular interactions with cross sections of the society and tourists who visit the lake to ensure broader discourse on cultural moorings of the state. The inaugural programme of the series saw artistes such as Mohammed Yaseen Gundpuri, Mohammed Subhan Shah, and Bashir Kotur perform before a select gathering of audience comprising singers, artists, writers, and poets. Meanwhile, Kashmir Divisional Commissioner Baseer Ahmad Khan announced that water transport for public in the Jhelum river will be free of cost for a period of one month. “Chief Minister (Mehbooba Mufti) has a futuristic vision to develop the water transport in the city for which two water channels were earmarked namely the Jhelum river and the Dal Lake. The action plan is prepared as per the water transport standards prevalent in Italian and other European countries,” Khan said after inaugurating the trail service.
He said there is a dire need to revive the water transport to give fillip to the tourism industry besides extending means of transport to general masses which will decongest the traffic in the city. “It will also generate employment opportunities for the Shikara (boat) owners besides unemployed youth,” he said. The water transport facility will be available from Peerzo to Veir Chattabal and back route in the city. Timing of this free service is 10.00 am to 4.00 pm. Later, these services will be extended to Pulwama, Anantnag and Baramulla.
Sringar Deputy Commissioner Farooq Ahmad Lone directed the authorities to ensure hassle free joy ride to the public on a free first come first serve basis. He also directed the tourism department to deploy new motor boats for this service so that people do not face any difficulty.