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Witness to history, Clermont struggling to stay alive

SRINAGAR

clermont-houseboat-dal-thButts Clermont-a fleet of houseboats on the banks of the Dal Lake at Naseem Bagh- housed famous people of the world once. But now it is struggling for survival due to the negligence of the government.

Owned by Britisher R Foster in the 40s, the fleet of eight houseboats was handed over by Foster to his Kashmiri friend GM Butt-a handicraft dealer- when India attained freedom. Today the houseboats are being taken care of by the third generation of GM Butt, reports Tribune.

“We suffered a lot due to militancy but even at that time, the war correspondents from across the world used to stay here. We have hosted known correspondents from the globe during the Kargil War too,” said Manzoor Ahmad Butt, grandson of GM Butt.

Surrounded by Mughal walls built in the 16th century, some of the famous people who have stayed at the Clermont’s were Nelson Rockefeller, the 41st vice-president of the United States, award-winning actress Joan Fontaine, Bollywood legend Dilip Kumar, actor Michael Palin and Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist James Natchetway.

Clermont is still an attraction for the high-end foreign tourists visiting Kashmir. The unique thing about Clermont is its garden which is spread over 70 kanals of semi-circular properly manicured lawns and mighty Chinars.

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