The Jammu and Kashmir administration has started preparing a dossier on the six Mughal Gardens in the Kashmir Valley to get them inscribed on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites. Meanwhile, the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir (UT) Manoj Sinha has issued orders on the upgradation of restoration work of the six Mughal Gardens including Nishat, Shalimar, Cheshmashahi, Pari Mahal, Achabal and Veerinag.
It may be recalled here that in October last year, J&K had issued tender for the selection of the consultant and consequently, Abha Narain Lambah was appointed as the project consultant for the preparation of nomination dossier. In January this year, Lambah had held a meeting along with Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Director Archives, Archaeology & Museums, Conservation Architect & Historic Building consultant and Executive Director Knight Frank, Deben Moza to discuss various aspects that need to be looked into while preparing dossier.
Some of the tasks involved here are:
- Collate all information about the area proposed for nomination including architectural documentation, etc.
- Draft the ‘Statement of Outstanding Universal Value’ (OUV) for the property.
- Identify the laws that provide legal protection for the property. If some components are unprotected, ensure legal protection is secured before submission of the dossier.
- Draft a policy framework for conservation and management of the property.
It should be noted that six gardens are already in tentative list of the UNESCO since 2010. According to UNESCO’s procedure for inscription, once a site has been named in a country’s “tentative list” for consideration by the World Heritage Committee, a State Party can plan when to present a nomination file.
During 16th and 17th Century AD, the Mughal Emperors laid out many gardens in Kashmir known as Mughal Gardens. The Mughal gardens of Kashmir which include Nishat Bagh, Shalimar Bagh, Chashma Shahi, Pari Mahal, Verinag and Achbal are currently on UNESCO’s tentative list of World Heritage sites. The sites selected (for gardens) were invariably at the foot of a mountain, wherever there was a source of water either in the form of streams or springs. This feature eventually resulted in terraced garden layouts. The Mughal engineering skills and aesthetics helped in exploiting the dominating natural landscape and the available water resources to their maximum potential and achieved an unparalleled height of perfection.