SRINAGAR: Kashmir has been a key supplier of ice to the Indian plains during the Mughal rule, a report appearing in the media said. As the East India Company failed to sustain the expensive operation, the only destination they could secure ice from was Boston in America.
“Some three centuries before the British mesmerised the city of Calcutta with ice, Babur, the first Mughal emperor, used his extensive resources to transport ice on elephants and horseback from Kashmir to the capital in Delhi,” a report by Neha Bunka in The Indian Express said. “There is some archival documentation to indicate that the British did attempt to emulate the Mughals’ practice of transporting ice from Kashmir, but the expenses involved resulted in the East India Company officials dropping those plans and, instead, focusing on American ice.”
The East India Company relied on American ice as the Kashmir ice was otherwise not able to survive for long.
American ice that was harvested from frozen rivers, ponds and streams of Massachusetts started reaching Calcutta in September 1833. A shipment would take as long as four months. By 1847 American ice imports topped the list of commodities. In 1878, as colonial India built its own infrastructure for making ice, the American ice monopoly was over.
Interestingly, however, Kashmir also produces its ice requirements mechanically as the snowline has receded and ice is too scarce to be harvested.