The horse cart owners, known as Tanga Wael in local parlance, have lost zeal in running the fuel-less transport to the modern means of transport—busses, cabs and cars etc in Kashmir valley. Horse carts have almost faded from the roads in Kashmir. But, road in Baramulla and Sopore, an Apple district in north Kashmir, is still witnessing the gallop of horses. Abdul Rashid, a farmer and a horse cart owner, says running horse cart is his hobby while farming is a seasonal work. “I love to run Tanga. My father was also a horse cart runner (Tanga woul). Horse cart, locally Tanga, is the heritage of Kashmir but now becoming absolute,” said Abdul Rashid.
Horse cart, is one of the oldest means of transport in Kashmir. Once upon a time people used to travel short as well as long distances on the emission-free transport. But now it has become an obsolete find due to the modern transport facilities. "Till 1996, as many Horse carts were ferrying passengers on different routes, with the advent especially auto rickshaws, the number of horse cart over past years has declined now and those running horse cart switched to different works for survival,” said Ghulam Ahmad a horse cart runner.
In past, the horse cart was considered to be one of the luxurious means of transport and even the kings used to travel via Horse cart. The Horse carts decorated colorfully in early times were also used on occasions of marriage to ferry the bride and groom. “I got married in 70's and was carried to Bridegroom's home by a horse cart which was colorfully decorated with roses. I still remember that ride of Horse cart,” said Ameena Begum.
To keep pace with the fleeting times commuters prefer the modern means of transport to reach their destinations well on time. Over past years, the three wheelers and ventures have made inroads into major towns of Kashmir threatening the survival of horse cart runners.
For Majid, a college student, traveling by Chariot for 15-kilometers is an ill thought as it would consume almost half of his day to travel from his home in Gantamulla to his college in main town Baramulla.
“For me travelling in a bus to reach the college is more convenient as I can’t afford to spend half of my day in traveling through a horse cart.”
The life of twenty first century has gone active and energetic and so are the means of transport. The modern means of transport are making a trouble to the livelihood of horse cart runners. “I am running Horse cart from last Thirty five years but now i am not interested in running horse cart because now only few people prefer to travel by Horse cart and also feeding horse is very expensive now, the money we earn a day by running horse cart can only feed horse not our family," said Mohammad Ramzan a Tanga wala.
A Tonga is largely made of wood and iron strips. It is propelled by two huge wooden wheels, has a cover on the top, and passenger seats on the rear side. On the front side, where the horse-man sits; are present two parallel horizontal poles between which the single horse is tied. Below the seats, a space is provided for carrying goods or horse feed. The horse pulls the cart in the forward direction and the horseman controls it with the bridle and the whip.