Srinagar: We all have heard of floating gardens, Islands and Houseboats. But Kashmir’s Famous Dal Lake has a floating Post office. It’s the only floating post office in the whole world.
This two centuries old floating post office was started in the british era and still continues to deliver letters and couriers to the people living on the lake. The delivery of the post is done by a postman while travelling in a shikara.
All the services of the Post office are available at this floating post office on Dal Lake while being afloat. They use a special seal of a shikara along with a boatman to put on the envelope.
”This is a 200 year old post office from even before the Maharaja’s time to British Era. It was finally called a floating post office. There is no change in the number of posts sent across. When there is tourist flow, we don’t have time to even talk. Thousands of People come to take pictures in this Post office. They can buy special covers, postcards and stamps from here. The Postman hires a shikara and delivers the letter to houseboats. This has been going on for years and still continues. ” said Farooq Ahmad, Post Master.
Mohd Ismail is a Postman working for years with the India Post. He has been delivering letters everyday to people living on the lake. It is time consuming to take a shikara and go to different houseboats but the charm of doing so is what he likes the most.
”I have been delivering letters in Dal Lake for ten years. It’s so good for my health to breathe fresh air on the lake. I deliver around 100-150 letters a day.There is also a CRPF camp inside the lake, they recieve a lot of letters and I deliver them. It takes me hours to deliver these letters. I start at 11 and finish at 5;30. ” said Mohd Ismail.
The locals living on the lake say the Internet and Social network has impacted the letter writing and sending to a lot of extent. But some people miss it as it used to be emotional to receive or send a letter in earlier times.
”This post office has been there for a long time. It is so easy for houseboat owners to receive and send letters. People have shifted to email and social networks for now and the art of letter writing has gone down. The feeling of receiving or sending a letter was a great feeling, to open a letter and read it was beautiful. I miss all that.” said Noor Mohammad, A houseboat owner.
The floating post office has a collection of old stamps and used to have a small museum in one of the rooms which was damaged in the 2014 floods.