Kashmir revisits rich heritage on World Heritage Day

Kashmir  revisits rich heritage on World Heritage Day 

Mir Sabeen Gulrez

Srinagar : 

A concerted effort to preserve our heritage is a vital link to our cultural, educational, aesthetic, inspirational, and economic legacies – all of the things that quite literally make us who we are — Steve Berry

To conserve the rich cultural heritage and the historical sites such as monuments, forts and palaces of a country the Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums as part of World Heritage Day celebrated the day on 18th April, in order to generate the awareness about preserving the History.

The exhibition whose themes were “Rare Books, Manuscripts and Paintings” which they recovered from different parts of valley were showcased  at  Art Museum Stone Building Old Secretariat Srinagar on “Rare Manuscripts “.

The day is also referred to as International Day for Monuments and Sites.

The idea of International Day for Monuments and Sites was first established by ICOMOS in the year 1982. Later on, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted the resolution in its 22nd General Conference in November 1983. Since then, World Heritage Day has been celebrated annually around the world.

The world on this day aims to recognize the efforts of all involved in the reservation,e.g architects,geographers,civil engineers ,artists, and archaeologists, who actually have involved themselves in the protection of Heritage.

Basically it’s celebrated just too aware our young and new generation about our rich cultural diversity that our ancestors have given to us, and the importance of preserving our ancient heritage. Only purpose of celebrating this day is to carry forward the legacy and preserve our culture. 

We should aware our generation by  activities including story telling sessions, visits to monuments and heritage sites , organizing essay  and speech writing competitions, drawing and poster making designs, photography contests of ancient heritage monuments, conducting heritage festivals, telecasting movies with messages of culture and traditions.

The museum has put this year’s theme based on A Special Exhibition on “ Manuscripts, Rare Books and Paintings”.

While talking to Deputy Director Archives , Archaeology and Museum ,Mushtaq Ahmad Beigh told News Kashmir that,”we got  inaugurated Art Museum on 15th August 2021 by our LG Governor Sahab. It’s main aim was to provide information to the people and provide space to local artisans. 

There should be conservation, reservation to Sufi Shrines , Temples , Gurudwaras and Churchs, every sort of religious chains we are considering. This is the routine process of the department for organizing such exhibitions to make the required awareness among the people.

We have conserved Hari Parbat Fort and that’s a wonderful achievement. In Tral there was a temple whose wall was damaged we quickly came into action and reconstructed that again.

We usually appeal to the Heads of Educational Institutions to visit these venues along with their students so that they can be aware of their past how it happened to be. There will be no entry fee for students as well as for the public also. We have a rich cultural heritage and that legacy cannot move forward unless or until our generation is aware.

However, along with the government, there should be public awareness in the way we treat our monuments and important sites. Certain important things should be kept in mind such as cleanliness is of prime importance and one should not scribble anything on the walls of these historical places. Do not throw litters around the historical places and make it untidy. Respect the historical sites. “We have limited ourselves to a more introverted mind-set and therefore our involvement with our towns, cities and heritage is getting lost.

While talking with News Kashmir Muhammad Athar Samoon designated as Surveyor said that,” In a whole year we usually three auspicious days i.e. World Heritage Day, Museum Day, Archives Week. During these celebrations we usually do exhibitions of rare manuscripts ,nadir which is usually Three hundred or four Hundred (300-400)year back. These books are very rare and ain’t are available in local . After Museum Day is celebrated in 18 May in which we usually invite people, schools,colleges,universities so that they can visit there. Then comes our Archives Week which is celebrated in the month of November from 18 Nov- 25 Nov in which whole week is celebrated and many people do visit to our place. We usually invite people just to aware our new generation so that they can be aware what their ancestors have left behind their back. Usually researchers and scholars do visit us and we entertain them to our fullest . We have number of books and records left with us which is beneficial for the society , researchers and scholars. 

Since people are very digital these days they have forgot to visit these places,  whenever children or other young people come here they get usually astonished while watching these things. Our ancestors have written these books with their hands and have left a wonderful treasure behind them. Because for our new generation everything is  computerized they became so curious to listen these stories how people of ancient times used to wrote these books. Yes , there is no doubt digitalization have put a generation gap where our kids forgot how our ancestors have survived.
The department consists two calligraphers namely Ms. Rashida Iffat & Mr. Javaid Ahmad. Who are the most wonderful calligraphists as showing the skills of hand made Calligraphy in very good manner including sharing the stories and history about the ancient Calligraphy of manuscripts including Rare books.

Regarding our manuscripts we have Sharda, Sanskrit ,Bhoj Patra(leaves of a tree,still existing) .We have a survey team which usually surveys each month to different districts or parts of valley. And these survey team consists of Registar,Field Assitant,Surveyor, Research Assistant. Usually these teams consisted of three to four people (3-4) or so. In a month we usually surveys for a week.

Government has a scheme where they pay to people who wanted to preserve books at their home or libraries even. For that team usually goes for surveys and if they found them liable then these survey teams pay them . So, that they can preserve their treasure in form of books.

Its people who guides us that this person has this book ,that saint have that book. Usually we get Rare Manuscripts from saints and madrasa’s.

“I don’t remember whether it was 2016-17 there was a madrasa in which some four big bags were full of manuscripts , we asked them that we are on our survey if you want to sell them you are welcome, if not then we will let you know how to preserve them. We usually ask these people if scholar comes to you, help them in every possible way of yours”,he further added. 

In a chat with News Kashmir Farhat Noori Museum Assistant/ Incharge Art Museum said  that,” we had exhibition  of rare manuscripts in which different manuscripts of different languages were shown to people. But here in Art Museum We have displayed almost number of paintings here in exhibitions in which  Antiques are 53, while as Modern are 50 and the total number of paintings were 103. The  names of paintings which have displayed on exhibitions were Kangra, Pahari, Basoli School Of Art (its very popular ), Rajasthani, Kashmir school of art, and Jammu school of art were present.

The paintings describe different scenario’s, in which artist describes everything. Artists when they look at these paintings get deep and feel as if they went to some other world even after spending hours while gazing they feel like they have lived in their own world, she further added.