When historic Qalai acted as peacemaker
LEST WE FORGET
ARIF SHAFI WANI
What Emperor Akbar built as a safe haven for his Courtiers, has been in ruins for years. Now government plans to restore the glory of the wall, which couldn’t suppress voice of Kashmiris against the Mughal rule.
In 1589, the Mughal Emperor Akbar had constructed— Qalai—the centuries old wall around the historic Kohi-Maran hillock in Shahr-e-Khaas to protect his courtiers and soldiers from Kashmiris, historians revealed.
“Kashmiris were against the Mughals and had valiantly challenged their invasions. Akbar settled his soldiers behind the Qalai to prevent altercation with Kashmiris. The Mughal soldiers used to occupy homes of the Kashmiris and inflict sufferings on them. The soldiers were also killed in retaliation by the Kashmiris,” Prof Fida Hasnain told Greater Kashmir.
He said Akbar wanted to divert attention of the Kashmiris from fighting against the Mughals.
“Kashmiris while fighting against the Mughal invasion had abandoned their work including agricultural activities. This had affected their economic condition and the problems were compounded by draught and famines. Akbar wanted the Kashmiris to concentrate on economic activities. So he decided to build a walled city for his soldiers, officers and pro- Mughal Kashmiri nobles, to keep them away from Kashmiris. He had named this settlement as Nagaar Nagar,” Hasnain said.
Prof Hasnain said the then ruler of independent Kashmir, Sultan Yusuf Shah was arrested by Akbar by deceit and treachery in 1586.
“Still Akbar could not subdue the Kashmiris. Sultan Yaqoob Shah ascended the throne of Kashmir after the departure of his father and his deportation to Bihar. He continued his struggle against the Mughal forces and defeated them thrice. However he had to runaway to Kistawar to save himself.”
He said the construction of the walled city was completed by Akbar’s successor Jahangir.
“This Nagaar Nagar city settlement had palaces, houses , mosques and Hamama and markets. There remnants are either on the verge of extinction or buried under the illegal structures,” Prof Hasnain lamented.
The wall, made up of mortar and stones, was about 4 miles in length. It had gigantic doors named Sangeen Darwaza, Kathi Darwaza and Jarooka Sahi towards the Nageen Lake. Their remnants are still visible today.
The wall suffered extensive damage, particularly during the past three decades, due to encroachments and construction of houses in the vicinity.
Incidentally, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has completed survey and documentation of the Qalai and termed its condition as deplorable.
“It is unfortunate that the 5 km historic Qalai has been extensively damaged by encroachments. The historic Naghar Nagar city inside hosts remnants of historical and archeological importance ranging from Hindu to Afghan regimes,” conveyor INTACH (Kashmir chapter) Saleem Beg said adding a report had been already submitted to the government for restoration of the Qalai.
The Valley Citizens Council has also filed a Public Interest Litigation for protection of historical monuments in the City.
“All efforts are futile till the encroachments are not removed from Qalai. Besides, if Government is serious it should take practical steps to protect our historical monuments,” the VCC’s general secretary, Imdad Saqi added.
Pertinently, the Master Plan (2000-2021) for Srinagar City had recommended repairs of the Historic wall and removal of the illegal structures in and around it.
In a bid to preserve Qalai, the government has declared the structure as protected monument by virtue of the Jammu and Kashmir Ancient Monument Protection Act.
Greater Kashmir had been highlighting the deplorable condition of the Qalai for the past many years.
“In exercise powers conferred under section (1) of section 3 of the JK Ancient Monument Protection Act , Samvat 1977(1922Ad) Act no V, the Government hereby declared the ancient monument Hariparbat wall (Kalai) situated around Hariparbat Fort as bearing Khasra no 16,229,328,510, 527, and 562 as the protected monument with the meaning of the said Act,” states the notification issued by secretary Tourism and Culture department, Tanveer Jehan.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, Jehan said the government was committed to revive and protect the historical monuments in the state.
“Like the ancient wall (Qalai), Srinagar City has monuments of immense historical importance but most of them are in a dilapidated condition,” she said.
Referring to the encroachments near the Qalai, she said: “We will be recommending removal of all the encroachments near the wall and develop it as a repository of an era of our rich history. We want to bring the Old City on the map of tourism.”
She said besides Qalia 30 monuments across the state had been declared as protected heritage sites. “For conservation of these heritage sites, including Hariparbat wall, we have submitted a comprehensive project report to the Union Ministry of culture and hopefully will start the restoration works after receiving the sanction,” she said.
As mandated by the Act, the authorities have sought objections to the notification within two months.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 1 Mar 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 1 Mar 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 2 Mar 2010 00:00:00 IST
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