June 2007 News

Srinagar now an endangered site

10 June 2007
The Hindu
Shujaat Bukhari

Srinagar: Srinagar has found a place in the watch list of 100 most endangered sites across the world for 2008 by the New York based World Monuments Fund (WMF). The list is intended to call international attention to the challenges and threats facing cultural heritage sites. The announcement was made by the WMF president in New York on June 7 and communicated to Jammu and Kashmir chapter convener of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) M. Saleem Beg. INTACH praised Terming it as a defining moment for the historic city, Tourism Secretary Naeem Akhtar said this would provide an opportunity to promote the city nationally and internationally and to work towards its protection. He complimented the INTACH, saying: 'it was due to its tireless efforts that it has become possible to see this city in the list.' The WMF communiqué to Mr. Beg said, 'traditional structures built to survive earthquakes are suffering as a result of ongoing instability and conflict.' The efforts to protect the historic areas of Srinagar were part of a new emphasis in the region on heritage tourism and the local arts and crafts industry, which formed the backbone of the State's economy, it added. 'Watch Listing may lend timely support to these efforts and help increase public awareness of this important historic city.' Famous monuments Founded between the Jhelum river and the Dal Lake in the mid-third century BC, Srinagar reached its apogee in the 15th and 16th centuries, according to the WMF. The city's most famous monuments, including Shalimar and Nishat Gardens, were built after Emperor Akbar captured the province of Kashmir in 16th century. During the British rule, colonial-style colleges, hospitals, and courts were constructed. 'In the downtown area of the city are less well-known residences, mosques, temples, hammams, and bazaars constructed in the local vernacular of timber and masonry architecture. Together, these buildings represent an unusually intact pre-modern urban environment,' the WMF said. Mr. Beg said that besides funding, the attention would help a great deal in protecting Srinagar. Pilot project The INTACH, he said, had submitted a pilot project for Rs. 27 crore, which includes 10 small projects of beautification of the Jhelum, the Mughal gardens, the Hariparbhat fort and houses along the Rainawari canal. The nomination was endorsed by the State Tourism Department, which is also concentrating on heritage tourism. The INTACH nominated Srinagar earlier in 2002 and 2004 but it did not find favour for many reasons. Leh included The WMF has included Leh old town in the list along with Srinagar. The watch list is released every two years.


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