As the sun begins to set, Kashmiri shopkeepers usually pull down their shutters and leave for their homes. But this market has set up a different example; the daily commercial activities start after the Sunset.
Situated in the famed Dal Lake, everyday thousands of tourists throng to this market to purchase goods. The market houses over two hundred shops and showrooms encompassed with shops selling; pashmina shawls, paper machie products, carpets and chain stitch rugs, and even gold ornaments.
Not only the handicraft items, this market is also known for selling homemade merchandise goods. Though the market remains open during the day, but the real activity starts only in the evening hours and continues till mid night.
“When the militancy was at the peak, this market used to wear a deserted look. But as normalcy has prevailed in the Valley, it has become the hub of commercial activities,” said Mohammad Iqbal, a local.
“This market was the worst hit, and had hit the bread and butter of these shopkeepers. But as the normalcy has started to prevail, this market remains abuzz with commercial activities 24x7.Tourists visit this market in large numbers to purchase goods and are completely captivated by the uniqueness of this market,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, who lives adjacent to this market in the heart of Dal Lake. He said the shops which are selling home necessities also remain open till mid night during the tourist season.
“We do around 20 per cent business during the day hours, while 80 percent business transactions take place in the night hours,” said a Pashmina seller, Farooq Ahmad. He said that tourists make purchase there in the night hours as they are busy sightseeing during the day.
“Tourists staying in the houseboats and the hotels in the Srinagar city frequently visit this market and make purchase of handicraft items lakhs of rupees every day. Our market is entirely dependent on tourists. At the time when there is huge inflow of tourists, we earn lakhs of rupees every month and do a brisk business. That season usually remains for three-four month, rest of the year, we do a very little business,” said, Ishtiaq Ahamd, a jeweller.
Shopkeepers claimed that tourists are frequent visitors of this market because they have not “compromised” with the quality of the products being sold in the market. “We sell products which are of pure quality and are not allowing any one to deceive the tourists,” said the shopkeepers.
Locals also get a lot of vegetables, like bitter melon, gourd, cucumber, pumpkin, and lady finger from the market. Not only, vegetables, there are also few fruit shops; selling fresh and dry fruits.
This market has one more peculiarity that it remains open in curfews and shutdown. “There is hardly any impact of strikes and curfews to this market. This will be the most peaceful market in the Valley and never any untoward incident has taken place here,” said a pashmina seller.
Tourists who visit the market are enchanted with the location of the market surrounded with water from all sides. Tourists take it as a souvenir the time they spent in the market.
“It’s amazing that such a market houses hundreds of shops is in the Dal Lake. It has been a great experience to do shopping here and I will never forget the time I spent in the market. People here are wonderful, warm, and polite. They are entirely dependent on us for their livelihood, the more tourists will visit here, it is better for them,” said Harish, a tourist from Gujarat.
Harish said that he has purchased handicraft items at the cost of one lakh from the market. “I have heard it from a friend that there is a market in the Dal Lake which remains open till late midnight. I was very anxious to visit this market. But today I got an opportunity to visit this market, which houses showrooms, which are of very high standard with a serene ambience,” said, another tourist, Vicky from Mumbai.