THE government is set to give Srinagar a Rs 980 crore makeover. The 4000 year old city is getting better urban mobility and water transport, pedestrian-friendly pathways and intelligent traffic management. Beginning March next year, Polo View is getting a facelift, “a colonial-era look.” The market which was established by the former Prime Minister of J&K, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad in 1954 has always been a tourist haunt and the new makeover is designed to further enhance its aesthetic appeal. It will become the first market in the city with a pedestrian-friendly pathway.
Recovering from the turmoil of the past three decades, Srinagar continues to live amid the echoes of the immediate past and the call of an uncertain future. Not that the change has not visited it. It has. But it has been primarily of a physical nature. There are scores of large shopping complexes coming up in the city. Along the major streets of Residency Road, Gogji bagh, Karan Nagar and also along Hyderpora, Sanat Nagar and the other areas, a brand new facade has lent a new gloss to the city.
There have been some bigger cosmetic changes like remaking of a large portion of the Jhelum embankment into a Chinar shaded riverside park which has kind of restored the famous boulevard along the river to its past colonial glory. Bund, as the boulevard is locally called, is a famous Jhelum side feature of the city, a darling of the tourists. It is the mooring site of the first houseboats in the Valley and in its heyday was seen as the oriental challenge to Venice
Srinagar has witnessed acres and acres of new colonies sprouting on its outskirts which have transformed its appearance. This has spawned an unprecedented real estate boom. The local developers have jumped into the fray in a big way, building flats and residential colonies, to cater to the large-scale migrations into the city from the countryside. The city’s demography has been altered in the process. Without asserting itself in any conspicuous way, a shiny new Srinagar is coming up away from the downtown city and aspiring to become the new political and commercial hub.
The contemplated new changes in many ways are a search for the vintage old Srinagar when all was so serene. And for once, through a renewal of scenic resemblance with the past, it represents a bid for the restoration of the familiar old geography of peace.
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