Donga Cruises in Dal Lake
For visitors, who would savour a slice of the true Kashmiri lifestyle, the Jammu and Kashmir tourism department has introduced traditional cruise on the famous Dal lake, complete with the houseboat, ethnic music and Kashmiri delicacies. In an initiative to draw more globetrotters the State authorities have launched Donga cruises in collaboration with the Houseboats Owners Association in Srinagar, reviving an age-old tradition while trying to boost tourism in the state. Once enjoyed by almost everyone visiting Kashmir valley, Donga (houseboat) cruises were part of local culture. "Donga cruises are an old tradition. There used to be Donga parties here. In the old days, Dongas used to ply n our waterways and they were a part of our old culture. But for a long time we had forgotten our culture and we anted to revive that," said Sarmad Hafiz, Joint Director, Jammu and Kashmir Tourism. Costing 500 rupees (or, 11 dollars), the cruise offers a three-hour ride on the lake together with traditional music, outh-watering Kashmir cuisine and the joy of sipping the spiced Kahwa tea. The cruises are aimed at providing wholesome entertainment to the tourists. "It is a great idea. The Donga cruise would attract more and more tourists and would provide them with an opportunity to enjoy their evenings. There are hardly any activities for the tourists during the evenings so these Donga cruises are really great," said Vishwajeet Raja Patil, a tour operator. Donga cruises, launched recently, have already become a hit with both domestic and foreign tourists as well. "It's a very nice party...very good... the Kashmiri food is also very delicious. People here are very nice and helpful. It is a very good place," said Jenny, a foreign tourist. With its snow-covered slopes of world-class ski resort Gulmarg to its renowned Dal Lake, with the attractive houseboats in Srinagar, including meadows, pine forests and snow-capped peaks, Kashmir makes perfect getaway for holidaying visitors.