A shikara is small paddled taxi boat, often about 15 feet (4.6 m) long) and made of wood with a canopy and a spade shaped bottom. It is the cultural symbol of Kashmir and is used not only for ferrying visitors but is also used for the vending of fruits, vegetables and flowers and for the fishing and harvesting of aquatic vegetation. All gardens in the lake periphery and houseboats anchored in the lake are approachable through shikaras. The boats are often navigated by two boatmen dressed in "Phiron" (traditional dress) and carry 'Kangris' or portable heaters on the boat. A shikara can seat about six people and have heavily cushioned seats and backrests to provide comfort in Mughul style. All houseboat owners provide shikara transport to their house guests free of charge. The shikara is also used to provide for other sightseeing locations in the valley, notably a cruise along the Jhelum River, offering scenic views of the Pir Panjal mountains and passing through the famous seven bridges and the backwaters enroute.

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