Shikara Craft of Kashmir: The Epitome of Elegance and Craftsmanship

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage


Nestled in the northernmost region of India lies the picturesque Kashmir Valley, a place known not just for its breathtaking landscapes but also for its rich cultural heritage. One of the most iconic symbols of this heritage is the Shikara, a traditional wooden boat that gracefully glides across the serene waters of Kashmir’s pristine lakes. These boats, adorned with intricate carvings and colorful decorations, are more than just vessels; they are a testament to the unparalleled craftsmanship and artistic talent of the people of Kashmir.

The Kashmiri Shikara: A Floating Work of Art

The Shikara, also known as a “floating piece of art,” is a long, wooden boat with a pointed bow and a flat bottom, designed to navigate the calm waters of Dal Lake, Nigeen Lake, and other water bodies in the region. These boats come in various sizes, from small ones that can accommodate a couple to larger ones capable of carrying a family or a small group of tourists.

What truly sets the Kashmiri Shikara apart is its exquisite craftsmanship. These boats are typically made from deodar wood, which is known for its durability and resistance to water damage. Skilled artisans lovingly carve intricate patterns and motifs into the wood, often depicting scenes from Kashmiri folklore, the region’s natural beauty, and religious symbols. The result is a boat that is not just functional but also a piece of art that tells a story.

Colorful Decorations and Embellishments

In addition to the beautiful carvings, Shikaras are adorned with a riot of colors that make them stand out against the backdrop of the azure lakes. The boatmen and artisans use vibrant paints and textiles to decorate the boat’s interiors and exteriors. You’ll often find colorful curtains, cushions, and canopies that lend a sense of warmth and hospitality to the boat.

The iconic red, green, and gold colors dominate the Shikara’s d├ęcor, reflecting the traditional color palette of Kashmiri culture. These colors not only enhance the visual appeal of the boat but also evoke a sense of tradition and heritage.

Versatile Functionality

Shikaras are not just works of art; they are essential for the daily life of the people of Kashmir. They serve as a primary means of transportation for locals, helping them navigate the intricate network of waterways that crisscross the region. Tourists, too, can enjoy a leisurely Shikara ride, immersing themselves in the tranquility of the lakes while taking in the scenic beauty that surrounds them.

Moreover, Shikaras have also become floating shops, offering an array of handicrafts, textiles, and souvenirs to eager tourists. As the boatmen skillfully maneuver their Shikaras around the lake, they showcase the rich tradition of Kashmiri craftsmanship. It’s not uncommon to find beautiful Pashmina shawls, intricately woven carpets, and traditional Kashmiri jewelry being sold from these floating stores.

Preserving a Rich Legacy

While the Shikara is undoubtedly an iconic symbol of Kashmir, its future faces several challenges. Environmental concerns, including pollution and the encroachment of water bodies, threaten the pristine beauty of the lakes. Additionally, the rise of modern transportation options has led to a decline in traditional Shikara use for daily commuting.

Efforts are being made to preserve and promote the art of Shikara-making and rowing. Local craftsmen are passing down their skills to the younger generation, ensuring that this centuries-old tradition continues to thrive. Sustainable tourism initiatives are also helping protect the natural beauty of the lakes.


The Kashmiri Shikara is more than just a boat; it’s a reflection of the rich cultural heritage and craftsmanship of the people of Kashmir. These floating works of art, adorned with intricate carvings and colorful decorations, are not only a source of transportation but also a symbol of tradition and elegance. As Kashmir continues to evolve, it’s crucial to cherish and protect the legacy of the Shikara, ensuring that future generations can experience its beauty and significance for years to come.

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

By Mala Chandrashekhar

Introducing Blogger Mala Chandrashekhar - a specialist academically trained in modern Western sciences, yet deeply enamored with India's timeless ethnic arts, crafts, and textiles. Her heart beats for the rich and glorious cultural and spiritual heritage of India, and she has dedicated her entire blog to spreading the immortal glories of ancient India worldwide. Through her simple yet impactful blog posts, Mala aims to reach every nook and corner of the globe, sharing India's beauty and wisdom with the world.

But Mala doesn't stop at just sharing her own thoughts and ideas. She welcomes constructive criticisms and suggestions to improve her blog and make it even more impactful. And if you share her passion for India's culture and heritage, she extends a warm invitation for high-quality guest blog posts.

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