The Floating Post Office

 

The pristine waters of Srinagar’s Dal Lake sparkle in the spring sun, reflecting in between the picturesque ripples the magnificent Himalayan peaks that accessorize the skyline. Amidst the beauty of the houseboats and shikaras, floats a one of a kind POST OFFICE. Yet another attraction for tourists visiting the Dal Lake. This Floating Post Office is another feather in the cap of India which is the most widely distributed postal network and the largest number of post offices in the world.

This post office is claimed to be the only such in the world and is built on an intricately carved houseboat, anchored on the western edge of the Dal Lake.  The heritage post office existed during the British rule. But it was repurposed and renamed by the then Chief Post Master John Samuel. It was inaugurated by then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Minister of State for Communications and IT, Sachin Pilot in 2011. It offers regular postal services as well as saving schemes.

The Floating Post Office additionally houses a Philately Museum showcasing the stamp collection and the fascinating postal history of the state. There is a Souvenir shop selling stamps, postcards, greeting cards and books on Kashmir.

Another distinctive feature of this post office is that the letters here carry a unique design with pictures of captivating landscapes of the Dal lake and other charming sceneries of Srinagar. These pictures are to promote Kashmir tourism wherever the letters travel.  They also have a special stamp of their own that depicts a man rowing a shikara.

The tourists take a boat ride to the post office just to send a postcard back home to their loved ones. The residents, use it for their normal post office work, including banking and saving. Labourers and farmers working nearby and those who run the shikara business all go to this post office to deposit their savings. This is the nearest post office for them.

Apart from the threat of destruction due to natural disasters like floods which are rare, the post office is safely afloat. As a matter of fact, the people working or frequenting the post office also mention that it is a pleasant and airy place where there is no need of the fan throughout the year.

This Post Office,  adds to the resplendence of the lake and is a  befitting tribute to the Dal Lake. So when are you visiting this mail in the pail?

By NSS
12th February, 2018

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