People in Chandigarh can now enjoy the famous Shikara rides of Kashmir, without actually going to the Valley, as two Shikara boats have been imported from the Valley to boost tourism in the city.
"Shikara" or traditional gondolas that languidly cut through the waters of the Sukhna Lake amidst the flurry of smaller row and foot-pedal boats, have been included as a new feature to strengthen Chandigarh's tourism industry.
"The administrative officials in Chandigarh have decided to turn Chandigarh into a major tourist destination. Sukhna Lake is the most popular tourist spot of Chandigarh and therefore the administration intends to add more to the tourists' pleasure. This is why Shikaras have been brought here from Srinagar to captivate more tourists," said A.K. Malhotra, General Manager Tourism, Chandigarh.
The brightly coloured Shikaras bedecked with drapes and flowers were brought down from Srinagar along with its boatmen to ferry visitors, giving them a complete entertainment of riding a Shikara like they can do in Kashmir.
"It is a good lake and the Shikara is working very well here. I do not find any difference between Dal lake and this lake, the only thing is that this lake is smaller than Dal Lake," said Irfan, the Kashmiir boatman in Chandigarh.
A thirty-minute Shikara ride comes at rupees 80 (less than 2 dollars) for a couple.
"If you compare it to Dal Lake in Kashmir, I miss the lotuses and if there were lotuses here it would be just like being in Kashmir on the Dal Lake. But the Shikara is the same and I just loved it," said Ritu, a visitor.
The Shikaras or gondolas and houseboats are among the finest attractions of Kashmir valley, especially, Srinagar. .
Chandigarh has long been a transit spots for foreign and domestic tourists visiting destinations in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
Chandigarh city serves as the capital of two States namely Punjab and Haryana. However, administratively, the city is not under the jurisdiction of either State. It is administered by the Centre government and hence classified as a union territory.
Located at the foothills of Shivaliks -- the first of the three parallel chains of the Himalayas, Chandigarh is a symbol of modern architecture and pristine natural beauty.
Planned by the French architect Le Corbusier in 1951 the city is notable for its urbanscape, manmade lakes, gardens, leisure valley, museums and art galleries.