Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2011/05/16

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Subject: [Leica] Houseboats on Lake Dal, Kashmir
From: lrzeitlin at (Lawrence Zeitlin)
Date: Mon, 16 May 2011 16:00:03 -0400

In the late 80s I had several lectures to give in Kashmir/Jammu and the
sponsors were kind enough to put us up in a houseboat on Lake Dal. These
houseboats are luxury accommodations, elaborately carved and richly
furnished. Apparently foreigners were not allowed to own property in Kashmir
so the locals built rental houseboats for the tourist trade. I'm sure
Jayanand can furnish all the details. Ours was one of a small fleet owned by
the Wangnoo family. It was built around 1900 and was the one used by
Theodore Roosevelt when he vacationed in the area.

Just about every surface of the houseboat interior is paneled with
intricately carved  solid walnut. This type of wood is almost unobtainable
in the US and Western Europe but in Kashmir it was so plentiful in the 1980s
that it was being burned as fuel. The following photos show both the
houseboats and the carved interiors in detail. The young lady is my daughter
Karen who accompanied us on the trip. She enjoyed Kashmir, at least eating
there, more than the rest of India because she didn't like curry. The
pictures were taken with a Rollei 35SE and scanned from Fujichrome slides.

Kashmir is one of the most naturally beautiful areas I ever visited. A
lovely blue lake surrounded by snowy mountain peaks. On the other hand,
there were thousands of Indian troops stationed in the area to quell social
unrest and every decade or so there was armed conflict on the border with
Pakistan. I took plenty of photographs of the area, the people, and the
boats on the lake - but none of the Wangnoo family. I was politely
discouraged by Mr. A. R. Wangnoo, the patriarch of the family. because he
said that it violated Islamic tradition. However the Wangnoos were
thoroughly modern in every aspect of their life so I suspect that his
hesitance was based on the fear that the Indian authorities might somehow
get access to the pictures. The Wangnoo family was very active in the "Free
Kashmir" movement and strongly lobbied for an independent state of
Kashmiristan. A quarter of a century later the problems are still

Larry Z

Replies: Reply from jayanand at (Jayanand Govindaraj) ([Leica] Houseboats on Lake Dal, Kashmir)
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