After years of delay, historic Downtown Srinagar is all set to get its first modern gateway.
The gateway has been constructed near Baba Dawood Khaki (RA) Bridge on the banks of BrariNambal. Officials said the gateway is slated to be inaugurated next month.
Named as Bab-ul-Iqbal, the foundation of the gateway was laid on 5 May, 2011. Estimated at a cost of Rs 1.65 crore, the project was scheduled to be completed in two years, however it witnessed inordinate delay. After public outcry, work on the gateway was expedited and is about to be completed.
The gateway comprises two big arches along road and curved spaces for pedestrian movement. "It will be a gateway for entering old Srinagar city which is one of the oldest recorded cities of the world and a heritage city," said Shafat Ahmad, executive engineer SMC.
He said the first phase of the project is nearing completion. "The work was allotted in 2013 and started in 2014. The project faced delay due to some land issue and floods in 2014. We have been working round the clock to ensure completion of the gateway," he added.
The second phase of the project includes development of footpaths on both sides of the gateway.
Commissioner SMC, Riyaz Ahmad Wani, said the gateway will be inaugurated next month. "The objective of the gateway to Shahr-e-Khaas is to give a feel to visitors about the essence of old city and its heritage. We are committed to restore glory of Shahr-e-Khaas by reviving its historic character," Wani said.
Downtown houses several religious places including shrines of many revered saints. "SMC proposes to encrypt brief history of revered saints on Dolpori red stones along the banks of BrariNambal for information of tourists," the commissioner said.
Member of Legislative Assembly from Khanyar, Ali Muhammad Sagar, who had conceived the project, hoped that the gateway would become an attraction in Downtown.
"The objective behind the gateway is to give tourists an essence of architecture of Shahr-e-Khaas. Bab-ul-Iqbal is part of comprehensive beautification plan of the area," Sagar said.
Downtown still has remnants of Mughal era walls and gates including KathiDarwaza, SangeenDarwaza and BacchaDarwaza.
"Though the gateway on heritage pattern is welcome, but the authorities could have chosen a suitable place in Downtown which formed its original entry place. The gateway leads to the erstwhile Nallah Mar which was buried to pave way for alternate route to Downtown," said Saleem Beg, state convener of the Indian Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).