Agence India Press
August 10, 2011
Srinagar: The life has gone brisk and so are the means of transport to meet-out the fleeting times. The modern means of transport have a great bearing on the livelihood of Tonga/horse-cart runners, one of the oldest means of transport especially in rural Kashmir.
Once largely used by commuters especially to cover short distances, Tonga’s are now fast becoming obsolete due to the modern means of transport preferred by commuters to keep pace with times. Especially the advent of three-wheelers (auto-rickshaws) has a great bearing on the livelihood of horse-cart runners. That is why the number of Tonga-walla’s is declining fast in north Kashmir towns.
To keep pace with the fleeting times, commuters prefer the modern means of transport to reach their destinations well on time. Over past years, the three wheelers have made inroads into major towns of Kashmir threatening the very survival of Tonga-walla’s. Earlier, the auto rickshaws were confined in major cities of Srinagar and Jammu but now these are plying in all major towns of Kashmir.
In the past, the horse cart was considered to be one of the luxurious means of transport and even the king used the horse-cart on special occasions however, the modern means of road communication is now fast replacing this oldest means of transport. The horse-carts decorated colorfully were in earlier times also used on occasions of marriages to ferry the bride and groom.
Ghulam Ahmad, a Tonga walla told Agence India Press that till 1996, as many as 60 Tongas were ferrying passengers on different routes of Kupwara. With the advent of especially auto rickshaws, the number of Tongas over past years has declined to only four. It (the horse cart) has now become obsolete and those running horse-carts were forced to switch to different works for survival.
In Sopore and other places too, the number of Tonga-wallas has come down considerably. Even the advancement in means of transport has deprived these Tonga runners of their parking stand in Kupwara and Sopore towns. Until 1996, these Tonga runners were having a permanent stand but now few existing Tonga-wallas have no specific place in towns to board commuters. (AIP)