Trial run started on July 12, service likely to give a boost to tourism
Even as the government’s plan of a water transport service is yet to see the light of day, the Jhelum cruise has been making travellers discover Srinagar’s rich heritage.
The cruise offers glimpses of old heritage buildings and ancient structures of Khanqah-e-Moula, Hanuman Temple, Badshah’s tomb and Hazrat Bulbul Shah shrine on the banks of the Jhelum.
“It is just a trial run at present. The cruise is showcasing Srinagar’s heritage,” said Ufair Ajaz, vice-president, business development and marketing, Kashmir Motors.
They had first started water taxis on the Jhelum in 2012. However, the government’s plan to launch an alternative means of transport to counter traffic snarls on city roads did not see the light of the day. Last year, Ajaz had submitted a detailed report on restarting water transport on the Jhelum.
“I have mentioned in the report that big boats are not viable. We already have two models of motorable shikaras. Once the plan materialises fully, we can have between 30 and 40 shikaras on the Jhelum, enabling shikara owners to offer cheaper water transport service,” he said.
“In places like Venice, water transport is a major attraction. We want people to get the same feel when they pass through the old city here,” Ajaz added.
The Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation, along with the Department of Tourism, Kashmir, restarted the Jhelum cruise on July 12 to promote water transport and heritage tourism.
Mahmood Ahmad Shah, Director, Tourism, Kashmir, said the service would give a boost to tourism as there were many heritage sites along the Jhelum which tourists would like to see.
“This will revive water transport and give a fillip to heritage structures and local architecture in downtown Srinagar. We are expecting locals and tourists to utilise the service. Foreign tourists are interested in knowing our history and centuries-old architecture,” he said.
Ajaz said he was hopeful that with the trial run of the Jhelum cruise, the plan of water transport would be realised in the near future. The government has already stated that an action plan was being prepared in this regard.