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Bandipora's affair with Tongas hasn't ended in spite of the rest of the world moving towards fast cars and high technology.
People of Bandipora town, which is situated about 80 kilometers from Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, still use the "Tonga" for transportation.
The Maharajas of Kashmir introduced Tonga here in the 1930s. It was a symbol of luxury at that time. Tonga in Bandipora is a 50-year-old tradition and remains an active part of the day-to-day lives of the people till date. It is the most preferred mode of transport for the people here due to its cheap and non-polluting nature. Also, it has a unique location.
There is the shrine of Baba Shukrudeen on the right and the Hazrata Shrine on the left. Besides, there are many areas around Bandipora where there are several shrines. As these are situated in the rocky and hilly areas, the tonga drive is consideredquite safe and expedient.
Bandipora, situated on the banks of the world famous Walur Lake, is one of the newest districts of Jammu and Kashmir and was formed in April, 2007. It has been carved out of the erstwhile Baramullah district.
However, there is a rising concern among the residents of Bandipora due to the decreasing numbers of this traditional vehicle.
Hopefully, this time-honored, customary transport continues to be a part of Bandipora's diaspora and is able to hold its own in the towering crowds of superfast cars.