Eighteenth century structure of Sher Garhi in Srinagar, a living history and witness of Afghan and Dogra rules, will be resurrected 65 years after it was slowly abandoned by late Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, apparently for being a Dogra rule’s symbol.
Chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Tuesday decided to restore multi-storey and multi-complex Sher Garhi as part of the fresh conservative drive to restore historic buildings in the trouble-torn valley.
“The government will do whatever is possible to conserve heritage monuments and restore these to their original glory so that these are integrated into our tourist circuit as destination sites for heritage lovers,” said Sayeed, while highlighting the need to restore the Sher Garhi complexes.
The complex witnessed major shifting of administrative offices during Bakshi Ghulam Ahmad. Now, the government plans to restore and preserve the structures of old assembly, old secretariat, archives building, ancillary and Shree Gadadhar temple.
“The conservation plan is looking at restoring original decorative built elements and features. It will also integrate various old buildings, restore historic linkages between the complex and the Jhelum river front,” said Sameer Hamdani, a conservationist working as consultant with the Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage (INTACH), the body taking up the conservation work.
The Sher Garhi palace came up in 1772 when Afghan governor Jawansher Khan ruled the place. It remained a major power centre even during the longest period of Dogra rulers.
The buildings are quadrangular in plan and built entirely in stone with wooden door, windows, ceilings and roofs. “The building symbolises the Anglo-Kashmir architecture,” said Hamdani.
The government plans to conserve the complex as part of the beautification work aimed to re-establish historical connections between local inhabitants and their cultural, social and political past. There is a proposal to reuse the complex as a Historic Srinagar Interpretation Centre. However, there are many other proposals doing the rounds at present including shifting of the state assembly to one of the restored complexes, which has a Durbar Hall akin to the House of Commons in Britain.
Mufti’s other initiatives
Restoration of the Old Assembly Complex
Development of artisan cluster at Safa Kadal
River cruises from May 12 from Peerzoo Restaurant to heritage destinations of LD Memorial, Khanqah-e-Moula, Maharaj Gung and the Shrine of Hazrat Bul Bul Shah (RA) in the first leg.
Renovation and restoration of revered Dastageer Sahab (RA) shrine at Khanyar and the Aali Kadal Masjid at Eidgah
Revival of three key areas along the Jhelum riverfront from Zero Bridge to Srinagar Club, Shergarhi Palace Complex and Safa Kadal Artisan Cluster.
Preservation of 40 heritage structures in Bijbehera
Conservation of Baba Naseem Shrine Complex and facade lighting of Jama Masjid, Bijbehera.