SRINAGAR: Dr Martin Ney, Ambassador of Germany in India, today inaugurated the first phase of the restoration of Dewan-e-Khaas at Shalimar Garden in presence of J&Ks Minister for Education, Mr Naeem Akhtar.
The Ambassador unveiled a plaque commemorating the project and also opened to public view the restored Papier Machie ceilings inside the Dewan-e-Khaas.
The Ambassador while praising the beauty, handicrafts and heritage of Kashmir said Germany will help in whatever possible way to preserve this treasure. He said since 1981 Germany has spent more than Rs 400 crore on 2650 projects aimed to preserve cultural heritage in 144 countries. In India alone more than 50 such projects have been undertaken and Rs 22 lakh Diwaan-e-Khaas project has now been added to the renowned list of such heritage sites in India. He praised the workmanship of Kashmiri artisans and proposed that the Papier Machie designs at Shalimar Garden should be replicated in shawls and sold as souvenirs to tourists.
Minister for Education, Mr Naeem Akhtar while thanking the German Ambassador for the help in the conservation project said there is scope of more international cooperation in such work. He said Kashmir is blessed with so much of cultural heritage and natural wonders which need to be conserved and showcased. Fortunately, the mindset is changing and people are now imagining its worth and providing a helping hand in conservation and preservation of such sites, he said.
The Minister said that Kashmir is sitting on a goldmine of heritage sites and with the support of the people it has to be preserved for the generations to come.
The Education Minister said that new generation of Kashmiri students have made their mark in every field and they are brimming with confidence. He said the government is trying to channelize the confidence of these students and translate the same into revival of our tradition of knowledge and crafts. He said in education, Kashmir is making huge strides and students are cracking elite examinations and many are headed to Germany as part of global job market.
Akhtar said hopefully the 25 years of darkness through which Kashmir has travelled will soon come to an end. He asked the German Ambassador to convey to the diplomatic community in New Delhi about hospitality, beauty and safe environment in Kashmir.
The Mughal Gardens of Kashmir owe their origin to the concept of Islamic architect spread over large parts of Muslim world. One of the greatest examples of royal patronage, the Shalimar Bagh was laid out by the Emperor Jahangir (1605-27 AD) during one of his visits to Kashmir and was completed around 1620 AD. Shalimar Bagh along with six other Kashmirs Mughal gardens is on UNESCOs tentative list of World heritage Sites since 2010 and therefore restoration of any damages in a most appropriate and sympathetic manner has remained a key objective of the Department of Floriculture and National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
The Dewaan-e-Khaas is located on the fourth terrace in the erstwhile Zanana quarter of the garden and positioned in the middle of the terrace amidst a pool of water replete with an array of as many as 120 fountains.
With a view to seek financial support and expert assistance for restoration of Dewan-e-Khaas, INTACH Kashmir chapter made a proposal to the German Embassy to help and support a restoration project for Dewan-e-Khaas. The proposal comprised mainly of restoring the Papier Machie ceiling and to the extent possible, the wall moldings.
The German Ambassador also interacted with students during a question answer session.
Secretary Tourism, Farooq Ahmad Shah, Director Floriculture, Director, Department of Archives and Archeology, state Convener INTACH and other officials were also present on the occasion.
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