Srinagar, With the advent of fast and comfortable means of transportation, Horse Cart ‘Tanga Sawari’, which is considered to be the oldest means of transportation, is dwindling at a very fast pace.
People today prefer to use modern modes of transport to save time and travel comfortably which has its own advantages and disadvantages.
However, in some areas of the Kashmir Valley, ‘Tange’ or horse-drawn carriages are still in operation.
For some people using such a sawari is a hobby.
In South Kashmir’s Sarnal Anantnag area, Tanga service is still popular which covers the journey from main Mutton Chowk ferrying people to and fro.
Gulzar Ahmad Vagey, a ‘tanga-ban’ whose horse-drawn carriage was used during the shooting of blockbuster Hindi film ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’, told UNI that he has been plying the tanga for the past 35 years in the area.
He said, “my father used to do the same work and I am also supporting my family well with the same work”.
During all these years he has never thought about switching to some other job.
He said, “although there are different means of transport to travel, still many prefer to travel in ‘Tange’, rather traveling in Tange is a hobby for some people”.
Gulzar charges Rs 10 per ride for a person. “it’s a good job and we don’t make crores, but we earn enough to support our families,” he added.
He said, “Tonga riding is safe as there are less chances of accidents and today there are new stylish Tonga’s which are also comfortable for the riders”. Gulzar said that a horse-carriage or tanga costs at least two lakhs.
“My tanga was used during the shooting of the Bollywood film “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” in Pahalgam and I stayed there for five days and earned a good amount”, Gulzar said.
He said that the government once promised to provide vehicles in exchange for Tanga on bank loans, but he demanded an interest-free loan, which they did not accept, so we continued running his business.
Gulzar said that “an elderly person once advised me that this profession is not only a means of livelihood but also a part of the culture of Kashmir, never to leave it”. This, Gulzar said, always remains on his mind while I am running the horse cart.
He believes that if the government wants to improve the “tanga” ride and make it as per the requirements of the passengers, this will not only keep the profession alive but the traditional ride will survive besides it will also increase the income of the people involved in it.
Ghulam Ahmad a passenger said that ‘Tanga Sawari’ is also known as a royal ride and once it was the main source of transportation for even the kings.
He said that with the advent of motor vehicles, the custom of ‘Tanga Sawari’ has become extinct, but people should also travel in Tanga so that this culture can survive and so does the livelihood of the people associated with it.