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Despite modernity, Hazratbal market maintains traditional outlook

12:10 AM Jan 22, 2024 IST | Guest Contributor
despite modernity  hazratbal market maintains traditional outlook
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Srinagar, Jan 21: Notwithstanding modernity, historic Hazratbal market on the banks of Dal Lake has maintained its traditional outlook.

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The centuries-old market is popular with traditional Kashmiri food and craft items. The colourful feelings that are created when people gather here to buy and sell things blend with the rich memories of Kashmir’s culture. The market is an important component of the local economy and tradition because of its charming location close to Dal Lake's shoreline.

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The market surrounding Hazratbal Shrine has evolved over generations. Against the backdrop of the white-marbled revered Hazratbal shrine, the marketplace unfolds with an array of stalls offering traditional Kashmiri handicrafts. Intricate Pashmina shawls, vibrant paper-mache artefacts, and aromatic spices create a sensory symphony that captivates visitors.

Ghulam Rasool Pandit, a retired headmaster from Hazratbal people from all corners of has been thronging the market. I remember my childhood when there were no proper roads. There were narrow lanes that connected the market. Fridays and Urs days were special as people from various areas flocked to Hazratbal Shrine,” Pandit said recounting the moments which he considers best times of his life.

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On Urs and Fridays, the area around Hazratbal shrine bustles with energy as a lively market takes over. It becomes a mix of history, culture, and business, where people gather to buy and sell things, turning the place into a buzzing hub. The atmosphere is filled with the hustle and bustle of people engaged in trading goods, creating a lively vibe that makes these occasions truly special.

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Abdul Kareem Ahangar, who has been running his utensils shop since 1970, recalls the past glory of Hazratbal market. “In the early days, this market was like a small family. We all knew each other, and there were just a handful of shops. It was a close-knit community where everyone had a story to tell. As the years went by, the market grew, more shops popped up, and new faces joined in. It became a lively place with energy."

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"I remember the simplicity of those times, the conversations over tea, and the brotherhood among shopkeepers. We've seen the market evolve into what it is today. Running my shop here has been a journey through time, witnessing the changes, and being a part of this market's history." he added

This market in Srinagar is a hub with a variety of shops catering to diverse needs. From traditional Kashmiri attire to modern fashion, these shops provide a wide range of choices.

Additionally, the market hosts crockery stores where one can find a mixture of kitchenware, adding a touch of elegance to homes. Fruit and vegetable vendors present a colourful spectacle with fresh produce, while snack stalls tempt passersby with delicious local treats. Fish market provide a selection of fresh catches. Nadru (lotus stem) vendors contribute to the local flavour of this market.

Abdul Khaliq, a 76-year-old shopkeeper said, "It's not just about selling things; this market gives jobs to many educated young people from Srinagar.” “They come here, set up their shops, and make a living. It's like the heart of our community, growing and providing opportunities for everyone."

Every Friday, people from different parts of Kashmir make their way to Hazratbal shrine and its bustling market. It becomes a special day when the air is filled with a sense of devotion and excitement. Families come together, and the market becomes a lively hub. They not only visit the sacred shrine but also explore the market, adding a warm touch to the weekly scene. It's a tradition that brings people closer, creating a shared experience in this cherished corner of Srinagar.

Bashir Ahmad, 40, from Tral area of south Kashmir said, "I remember my grandfather started taking me to Hazratbal shrine every Friday when I was just 10. Since then, I've been coming here regularly. This place means a lot to me, he said.

"It's not just a market, it has a rich history and cultural significance. It's more than buying and selling; the things we get here feel like special gifts, satisfying our needs and connecting us to this place," he added.

By Mehroob Mushtaq

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