Flood or no flood, heritage sites face neglect

Flood or no flood, heritage sites face neglect

Safeena Wani
Srinagar: Like most of the flood-hit infrastructure in the Valley, the iconic Budshah tomb complex awaits repairs. It also awaits the conservation befitting a protected historical monument, like a number of other neglected archaeological sites.
In the last year’s flood, a portion of the royal graveyard was damaged. Barring patchwork, no substantial effort has been made to repair and safeguard it.
Besides the royal graveyard and a common graveyard, the complex houses the brick tomb, which has the grave of the mother of the 15th century Sultan Ghiyas-ud-Din Zain-ul-Abidin, popularly known as Budshah.
The tomb, a representative of the Shahmiri architectural heritage, has developed cracks in walls, ceiling and flooring. Mosses have grown on the rooftop.
Ayub, a caretaker at the tomb complex, said concerted official efforts needed to conserve the monument are lacking.
He said the Indian Archaeology Department (IAD), entrusted with protecting 31 monuments in the Valley, has no office in Kashmir for the past 25 years. The office is in Jammu. A lone Conservation Officer posted at Lal Mandi office is looking after conservation efforts.
Ayub says that in the absence of a full-fledged IAD office, heritage sites “are facing neglect”.
A ruined medieval temple in Bohri Kadal is one such monument. Dirt covers the two stone entrances of the temple.
“The government-appointed caretaker of the temple visits the site once a week,” says Nazir Ahmad, a shopkeeper.
“My grandmother used to tell me how this was a happening place when Kashmiri Pandits use to come to this place and offer prayers,” he added.
Like IAD, the State Archaeological Department (SAD) has listed 47 monuments on its webpage (18 in Kashmir, 28 in Jammu and one in Ladakh).
Although director SAD Mohammad Shafi Zahid said the department has been undertaking “conservation, restoration and preservation” of the heritage sites, his claim is contested by university scholar Zubair Ahmad who referred to the collapse of a portion of the wall, locally called Kalai, of the medieval fort on Hari Parbat hill.
“Successive state governments have failed to protect these structures. Many proposals for renovation of these monuments are gathering dust in the Secretariat,” Zubair said.

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