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‘World’s Largest’ Igloo Cafe Brings Visitors to Indian Kashmir


Inside view of igloo cafe with seats covered by sheepskin in Gulmarg. (Bilal Hussain/VOA)
‘World’s Largest’ Igloo Cafe Brings Visitors to Indian Kashmir
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The world’s largest igloo restaurant can be found in northern India in the Jammu and Kashmir area.

An igloo is a shelter that is usually round and is made of snow and ice. But the café will not be available for too much longer. The 40-seat business is expected to melt away sometime in March.

Snoglu Cafe is owned and operated by the hotel Kolahoi Green Heights. It is at the Himalayan winter sports resort of Gulmarg, which is 50 kilometers southwest of Srinagar and 2,500 meters above sea level.

Syed Wasim Shah is the creator of the cafe. He said an igloo village in Zermatt, Switzerland that he visited a few years ago helped him come up with the idea.

Snoglu Cafe is 11.43 meters tall and 13.56 meters wide. That makes it larger than the current record holder. The Guinness Book of World Records publishes such records. The igloo listed by Guinness is found in Switzerland. It is 10.5 meters tall and 12.9 meters wide.

Shah told VOA, “We have already written to Guinness Book of World Records to certify our record and they will do it in due course of time.”

The cafe has two areas. Coffee and small foods are served in one area. The other is for artwork.

Shah said, “It took us 64 days, precisely 1,700 man-days to complete: We started on the 3rd December and completed on the 4th of February.” He added, “We employed all locals to construct it and the snow art was all done by me.”

The cafe immediately became popular with visitors from the resort. Shah said the business has 300 to 400 visitors every day. He said he is asking people to pay about $3 to enter the snowy structure to limit the number of people.

One of those customers was Dr. Vaishnavi. She visited Kashmir for the first time from the eastern Indian state of Orissa. She ate there with her husband, Dr. Indrajeetm.

The world's highest igloo cafe at 2500 meters above sea level in Gulmarg. (Bilal Hussain/VOA)
The world's highest igloo cafe at 2500 meters above sea level in Gulmarg. (Bilal Hussain/VOA)

Vaishnavi told VOA that she was interested in the idea behind the structure and liked the feeling inside the Snoglu Cafe. Visitors wear winter clothes and sit on sheepskin seats to stay warm.

Hamid Masoodi runs the Hotel Kolahoi Green Heights. He said this is the second year that the hotel has had the igloo cafe. It is only possible to have one during the winter season from early December until about the middle of March.

He said the hotel built one last year that could fit 16 people. He estimates this year’s larger igloo could serve almost 20,000 visitors during a full season.

Shah, meanwhile, has bigger plans.

He said the goal is to create a “full-fledged igloo village next year.” It would have places to sleep, along with the Snoglu Cafe.

I’m Gregory Stachel.

Bilal Hussain reported this story for Voice of America. Gregory Stachel adapted it for VOA Learning English.

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Words in This Story

cafe – n. a small restaurant where you can get simple meals and drinks (such as coffee)

resort – n. a place where people go for vacations

certify – v. to say officially that something is true, correct, or genuine

precise – adj. very accurate and exact

customer –n. someone who buys goods or services from a business

construct – v. to build or make (something physical, such as a road, bridge, or building)

full-fledged – adj. fully developed

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