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J&K now makes serious push for UNESCO World Heritage tag for Mughal Gardens in Srinagar

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The Economic Times
23rd October, 2019 09:17 IST

NEW DELHI: Nearly a decade after Srinagar’s famous Mughal gardens made it to the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Jammu & Kashmir administration is now finally making a serious effort for a permanent UNESCO tag for these gardens.

The J&K administration is hiring a consultant to prepare a professional dossier to be submitted as a nomination for Srinagar’s Mughal gardens to UNESCO for listing it as a World Heritage site.

The administration floated a bid on October 19 to hire a consultant who will complete the job in five months.

Kashmir’s Mughal Gardens comprise of Nishat Bagh, Shalimar Bagh, Chashma Shahi, Pari Mahal, Verinag and Achbal, all laid out during 16th and 17th centuries by Mughal emperors such as Jehangir and Shah Jahan.

“Considering the immense historical significance of these gardens, their inscription on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites will bring in much-needed international attention and appreciation to the gardens,” said a brief given to potential bidders. “Besides the preservation of these sites can be undertaken with the best international practices and standards.”

ET saw a copy of the J&K administration’s proposal.
A key part of the job of the consultant is to draft a ‘statement of outstanding universal value’ (OUV) for the property as per UNESCO's standards.

The consultant will liaison with the Archaeological Survey of India, UNESCO World Heritage Secretariat and the Department of Culture for submission of the nomination dossier.

The J&K document regarding the exercise said the celebrated Mughal gardens of Kashmir owe their grandeur primarily to Emperor Jahangir who had an “undaunted love for Kashmir”, and his son Shah Jahan.

“Jahangir was responsible for the careful selection of the site and manoeuvring it to suit the requirements of the traditional paradise gardens,” the proposal said. “Although the Mughals never deviated drastically from the original form or concept of the gardens, their biggest challenge in Kashmir was to exploit the chosen site and the abundance of water resources to its maximum potential. The sites selected were invariably at the foot of a mountain, wherever there was a source of water either in the form of streams or springs.”

The document said this feature eventually resulted in terraced garden layouts. “Undaunted by the challenges offered by mountainous terrain, 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.

The spectacular, mountainous natural settings, within which all of these gardens are laid, are perhaps impossible to be found in any of the other Mughal Gardens of India,” the document said.

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