Dal Lake, the pristine, ethereal tourist hotspot in the Kashmir Valley, has acquired a cutting edge.
A Chennai firm has turned it into a wi-fi 'hotspot', or a 10 km zone from where laptops can plug into the Internet wirelessly.
The project, that cost the Chennai-based Dax Network Ltd close to Rs 10 lakh (Rs 1 million), was taken up more as a challenge to prove the efficacy of the system that can work under challenging conditions.
This could be the first lake in the world to have been wi-fi enabled. A Dax Networks spokesperson said, "We had to convince the J&K government and its tourism department on the need for wi-fi enabling the lake." The project was conceived in March this year and executed over two months.
The networking equipment was supplied by Dax and the project was completed with the support a local ISP, iPeaks.
Dax director Deepak Mirza said, "We are also now in talks with various state governments to wi-fi enable the other prominent lakes in the country. Nainital, Kodaikanal and Hussain Sagar in Hyderabad are some of the prominent lakes Dax proposes to wi-fi.
Sujit Singh, country manager of Dax, said: "Except for two months when the snowfall is heavy, tourists can access Internet throughout the year from around the lake. A total 10 sq km area would be the "hotspot" in and around Dal Lake.
Giving the rationale for undertaking this unique project, Mirza said, "Though many parts of the country are enjoying the benefits of the latest networking technologies, numerous pockets are still completely untouched by this phenomenon. Kashmir is definitely one of them. This development will ensure that Kashmiris at large are not denied of what the rest of the country has access to."
At present, six houseboats -- called shikhara -- at the Dal Lake have been fitted with the wi-fi enabling equipment.
Commenting on the company s financial performance for the current year, Mirza said Dax would close with a topline of Rs 75 crore (Rs 750 million).This would be a 25 per cent jump over the Rs 60 crore (Rs 600 million) turnover during 2002-03. Mirza refused to comment on the profitability of Dax.