Once famous heritage site, Zaina Lank – an island in the middle of Wular Lake in Bandipora district – is now craving for attention for its preservation.
Zaina Lank was built by King Zain ul Abideen Budshah, 14th-century ruler of Kashmir. It is now in shambles as both the state government and as well as local administration have failed to preserve its rich cultural history. The King had constructed a mosque and a temple on the island, that are now in shambles owing to the negligence of state government.
"Both the mosque and temple on the island now present a grim picture as they are in ruins due to the negligence of the government and absence of upkeep by the local administration," said a local resident of Lankrishipora, Abdul Ahad Reshi.
He said that the site with cultural and historical importance is facing threat as the island has been turned into a grazing spot for sheep and cattle.
The locals said that the multi-crore Rupees Wular conservation project, started some years ago, has also proved futile as the authority could not do anything substantial to conserve the beauty and rich cultural heritage of the island.
The locals said that the island has been built in such a way that if the water level rises in the Wular the island remains afloat as water does not enter inside the island.
"The island was built by the king to safeguard the lives of the people from floods as they were often caught by the tumultuous floods of the Wular," said an elderly man, Muhammad Sultan Reshi.
He said that around a decade back visitors from India and outside would throng the island for it was famous and people would love to visit the site. "But due to the government negligence, the site has lost its sheen and is now craving for attention. Hardly any visitor now comes to the island," he said.
A visit to the island by this reporter revealed the appalling condition owing to absence of maintenance and proper upkeep by the authorities.
The fencing of the island built with giant stones is in shambles. The lush green lawns have got de-shaped and plants nearly dried up. The temple is in ruins. The mosque is just limited to four walls with its floor covered with wild grass and the walls have gathered mass.
The island is now surrounded by muddy waters, polythene bags, animal carcasses and other littered material.
"Because of the lack of proper maintenance and lack of policy to preserve such an important cultural and historical monument, there are now only remnants of the mosque and the temple," said a visitor, Tawheed Ahmad Dar.
When contacted, deputy commissioner Bandipora, Sajad Hussain, said that they were asked to submit a proposal regarding the preservation of the heritage sites in Bandipora for their preservation. "We have submitted the proposal last year, but the authorities have not released any funds so far. This year funds might be released and accordingly steps would be taken for its preservation," he said.