Thursday, 10 January 2008

Benoît Marquet: Fishermen of Kashmir

Image © Benoît Marquet-All Rights Reserved

Benoît Marquet is an independent photographer based in New Delhi, who specializes in news and documentary photographic assignments from South Asia.

He has worked in Kashmir, and his website showcases a photo essay (Kashmiri Fisherman) on the fishermen who ply their trade on Dal Lake. The life of a Kashmiri fisherman is no different from other fishermen all over the world. Waking up before dawn to fish and returning home just after sunrise, the Kashmiri fishermen have a difficult time making ends meet. It's probably a dying profession, with his children working in other occupations.

Srinagar is said to have been founded by the Buddhist Emperor Ashoka during the third century B.C. Dal Lake, the Jhelum River, and a looping canal that joins the two effectively make an island of Srinagar's busiest section.

Dal Lake is surrounded on three sides by mountains, and it is the home to houseboats and gondola-like shikaras. These provide transportation the lake and its floating gardens. It's estimated that there are 602 houseboats on Dal Lake, supporting a population of nearly 60,000 people. An interesting factoid about the houseboats: During the Raj, the ruler of Kashmir did not allow the British to build homes on Kashmiri territory, so to circumvent the law, they built houseboats.