In a bid to revive the old cultural heritage of Kashmir, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today called for restoration of major heritage monuments and their integration as destination points into the Valley’s tourism circuit.
He also passed directions for restoration of the Old Assembly Complex and development of Artisan Cluster at Safa Kadal in the first phase.
Mufti Sayeed was speaking while viewing a presentation given by J&K Chapter of Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage (INTACH), here today.
Minister for Public Works, Floriculture, Gardens & Parks, Syed Altaf Bukhari, Minister for Education, Naeem Akhtar, Minister of State for H&UDD and I&C, Mohammad Ashraf Mir were present on the occasion.
Expressing concern over the alarming threat posed by wanton abandon, vandalism and disasters like floods to our priceless heritage sites, the Chief Minister called for prioritizing mapping and preservation of Kashmir’s Heritage, which is precariously standing on the edge. “The State Government will do whatever is possible to conserve our heritage monuments and restore these to their original glory so that these are integrated into our tourist circuit as destination sites for heritage lovers,” he said, and added that cruises on river Jhelum are primarily aimed at promoting heritage tourism in the Valley.
On the instructions of the Chief Minister yesterday, the river cruises will begin from May 12 next month from Peerzoo Restaurant, which will take tourists to heritage destinations like LD Memorial, Khanqah-e-Moula, Maharaj Gung and the Shrine of Hazrat Bul Bul Shah (RA) in the first leg.
Describing Old Assembly Complex as a huge treasure trove that the State possesses, Mufti Sayeed asked INTACH to begin mapping of its restoration so that its conservation and preservation is taken up on priority. “The Old Assembly had a Durbar Hall akin to the House of Commons in Britain and it had one of the finest galleries of exquisite art works in the State,” he asserted while stressing on the need for revival of the Old Assembly Complex.
Describing Kashmir as a repository of ancient monuments and archaeological artifacts, the Chief Minister emphasized upon the need to preserve these as marks of our great historical past, which are needed to be preserved for future.
During the meeting, INTACH consultants briefed the Chief Minister about the initiatives taken for renovation and restoration of revered Dastageer Sahab (RA) Shrine at Khanyar and the Aali Kadal Masjid at Eidgah, besides revival of three key areas along the Jhelum Riverfront from Zero Bridge to Srinagar Club, Shergarhi Palace Complex and Safa Kadal Artisan Cluster.
INTACH, which is working in collaboration with Tourism Department, also informed the Chief Minister about the steps required to be taken to rediscover the historic urban spaces and restoration of heritage monuments by beautification so that authentic representation of Kashmiri customs is made as a Living Culture. It is also working on the development of access streets, facade upliftment of existing craft workshops and shops in many parts of the Srinagar city.
Mufti Sayeed was also briefed about the initiatives taken by INTACH on preservation of 40 heritage structures in Bijbehera, which has been listed as a major historic town under the National Mission on Monuments & Antiquities, Union Ministry of Culture. The proposals under consideration include conservation of Baba Naseem Shrine Complex and facade lighting of Jama Masjid, Bijbehera.
Later, the Chief Minister also viewed a presentation on the proposed tourist resort at Satwainan, Lakhanpur, which will be spread over 67 kanals of land, ideally located across the wide expanse of the Ranjit Sagar Dam. The resort, which is expected to attract tourists from nearby states like Punjab, envisages laying of a children’s park, restaurant, dedicated food-street and tourist hutments.
Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, B. B. Vyas, Chairman, J&K Bank, Mushtaq Ahmad, Director Tourism Kashmir, Farooq A. Shah, VC LAWDA, Sarmad Hafeez, VC SDA, Saleem Sheshgar, Commissioner SMC, Tufail Mattoo, Chief Engineers of R&B and I&FC and Consultant, INTACH, Sameer Hamdani, were also present.