Srinagar, Sep 26: Farooq Ahmad Dar revived his forefathers venture in 2012 after he started cruise boat ‘New Bul Bul’ on Dal Lake to provide a mesmerizing travel experience to local and non-local tourists.
“It was my father, late Haji Ghulam Ahmad Dar, who was associated with this venture in British times. At that time water sports activities and other recreational activities were happening on Dal and Nigeen Lakes”, Farooq recalled.
He further revealed that during those days the boat was mainly used for swimming and other water sports activities by British visitors as the water in both the lakes was crystal clean.
The boat stationed in the middle of Dal used to act as a launch pad for performing various water sports activities. “This endeavor received excellent response from Britishers as top personalities across the world were visiting the boat”, he said.
The whole boat endeavour was started by a Britisher Colonel Badel with whom Farooq’s father late Haji Ghulam Ahmad Dar was working. “My late father was working with Colonel Badel, a British who had started the venture. After Badel left the valley my father took over the reins of the boat”, he revealed.
However, post 90s due to unfavorable situations, the boat remained non-operational for years. It was in 2012 when Farooq thought to do something about it and turned the stagnant boat into a cruise.
Though the service was started in 2012, however, due to lack of publicity not many were aware about it.
With the increase in usage of social media, the cruise started to gain popularity.
“Seeing the impact of social media we used it to make people from all walks aware about our service and it did wonders to its popularity,” said Dar.
“The cruise boat now remains booked for most of the days. Apart from travel bookings, people book the cruise for birthday parties, ring ceremonies, VIP functions, conferences etc.
“Being the first cruise boat in Dal Lake, the boat influences many local and non-local tourists”, Farooq said.
He added many national and international celebrities have also visited his cruise boat for the ride and enjoyed the experience beyond their expectations.
“The former Indian cricketer Ajay Jadega, various Chief Ministers from different Indian states, former CMs of J&K Dr. Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, and several members of central level delegations have visited the cruise in the recent past.
Besides, Dar added “Bollywood superstar Amir Khan, crew members of south Indian movie who are currently shooting their movie in the valley, and Bollywood actress Heema Malini too have all visited his cruise boat.”
The boat remains stationed adjacent to the bank of Dal Lake near Ghat No. 23 (Makai Point) and board tourists from here for rides to Char Chinari, Kabootar Khana, Nehru Park, etc.
The cruise enthralls visitors with local traditional music which according to Farooq has received huge appreciation by non-local tourists.
“Besides ride, every night we have DJs and other singers who sing traditional Kashmiri songs during the ride to promote local culture among non-local tourists”, he said.
The boat with capacity of 60-passengers is equipped with life saving equipment.
The tourists on the boat are served lunch, dinner and other sort of refreshments.
Expressing gratitude to the Department of Tourism Farooq said the department is providing every possible help to us in exploring various means of livelihood.
Optimistic of receiving more government assistance, Dar said we are hopeful the government will take more tangible measures in near future for augmenting the tourism sector in the valley which bore the brunt of uncertainties in the past.
He also appealed to the government to construct special decks for boarding the tourists into the boat and also repair the ones which are in a dilapidated condition on the Dal Lake.
He assured that they are taking utmost care of the conservations of Dal and Nigeen.
“We have installed tanks into the boat to flush the sewage into”, he added.