Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Preserving Kashmir's Architectural Legacy

Iqbal dwells on Kashmir's architectural heritage

(Mr. Iqbal Ahmad, 51, was born in Parigam Chek, Kulgam. He is a graduate with Diploma in Numastics, Archaeology and Heritage. He is an archaeologist, writer, and a cultural historian. Mr. Iqbal Ahmad has published 12 reference books on Kashmir archaeology and heritage.)

Preserving Wooden Structures

One of the outstanding contributions to Kashmiri architectures of Muslims period was the introduction of wood that too in brilliant carving and lattice designs. Earlier it were rubble stones that had occupied a permanent and long place in Kashmir architecture but with the transfer of power from Hindu Rajas to Muslim Sultans in 14th century AD, Kashmiri art and architecture also got influenced. Sultans especially Sultan Zain-ul-Abadine invited Persian artists granted lands and other perks to them. These artists introduced Persian styles in domestic as well as in religious shrines and preferred wood over the massive stones that were already in vogue in Kashmir. The usage of massive rubble stones is clearly evident in the temple ruins of Martand, Avantipora, Pattan and other constructions built upto 14th century AD.

The new initiative of Sultan Zain-ul-Abidine got further promotion during the reign of his successors and gradually wood became an important and common material used in the constructions of Kashmir. Later Mughals, Durrani and even Sikh rulers preserved and promoted wooden architecture at Kashmir.

When Nicholas, visited Kashmir he was fascinated while seeing Kashmiri woodcarvings and lattice work. It was walnut wood that was found sound for making of carvings and lattice panels. The massive stone columns were replaced by brilliantly carved wooden colonnades. Ceilings came to be formed of Khatamband and consisting of small piece types and even doors, windows and arcades of the shrines got filled up with five types of latticework designs. Besides walnut Deodar, Kavior and other woods got used in later periods.

The handsome wooden works are not seen only in classical Muslim shrine but even in olden houses too. Although we could not preserve all such memories but still there are many Muslims monuments, which have preserved their wooden designs. However the modern tastes and new architectural trends have posed a threat to these structures, and at many places even in Muslim shrines wooden columns and lattice panels are being replaced by concrete cement pillars and glass panels. This new practice needs to be discouraged, otherwise we would lost many masterpieces of wooden art. At official level no concrete steps are being initiated to preserve the brilliant wooden designs. If the present state of affair continues, these things would be seen only in the cabins of museums.

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