Kashmir’s 200-year-old floating hotel industry finally collapsed in 1989, the victim of escalating regional conflict. Twenty-six years later, photographer Helen Rimmell visited the area to document what happened to these lively destinations after war sidelined the tranquil, once-thriving industry and froze it in time.
From the relatively well preserved interiors where portraits of Princess Diana still hang, to their beautiful carved exteriors, the defunct hotels are a melancholy reminder of their bygone glory. Quaint relics once frequented by movie and music royalty (Lou Reed and Joanna Lumley once called them home), they now sit on water or stilts, abandoned by tourists.
Rimmell’s series, The Forgotten House Hotels of Kashmir, includes touching stories and portraits of the boats’ owners, who discuss their struggles to survive and keep their houseboats in working order, many of which have been in the family for generations.
To see a ’50s-era Life magazine feature of the boats during their golden age, head to Messy Nessy Chic.