Srinagar in black and white frames
Taking away from its strife-torn image, author Feisal Alkazi focusses on the distinctive architectural heritage of Srinagar in his newest book, Srinagar: An Architectural Legacy. The title has been divided in two parts — one concentrates on Kashmiri architecture down the ages, with influences from the Afghans, the Sikhs, the Mughals and many other contributing factors while the other part charts five guided walks that not only allow you to explore the myriad facets of Srinagar but also to discover the architectural heritage of the 500-year-old city.
A Tombstone at the Shekh Bagh Graveyard. Pic Courtesy/Srinagar: an architectural legacy
A view of the Sun Temple at Martand, near Anantnag, built by Lalitaditya (725-753 AD). Pics courtesy/Srinagar: An architectural legacy
Dastageer Sahib in Srinagar with the characteristic roof of Kashmiri mosque. Every Kashmiri mosque till today has several distinctive features: a large prayer hall that is often double-height, a first floor and a pyramidical roof built in the chaar baam style. This multi-tiered pyramidical roof is surmounted by a brangh, a square open pavilion used to call the faithful for prayers. The roof is surmounted by a tall pyramidal spire.
The book showcases the unique architectural heritage of Srinagar, complete with colonial structures, wooden establishments and bay windows — is under threat today — owing to increasing commercialisation and use of glass and concrete. Hence, Alkazi decided to document the remaining treasures of the rapidly changing city in an effort to preserve and conserve its unique character in some form.
Traditional Kashmiri residence overlooking the Jhelum, with its characteristic over-hanging balcony. The indigenous tradition of constructing residences involved the raising of structures of wood and brick on a foundation of stone. Most buildings were doublestoried.
Traditional carpet weavers in the early 20th century. The fine workmanship and high artistic sophistication that marks Kashmiri crafts received their greatest encouragement and developmentin Zain-ul-Abidin’s reign. Weavers from Khorasan, Iraq and Turkestan introduced the weavers to brush and loom, and the weaving of silk in the Valley.
Pari Mahal in the Zabarwahn mountains, built by Shah Jahan’s eldest son Dara Shikoh, overlooking the Dal Lake. Srinagar offers a rare opportunity to see some of the structures built by Dara Shikoh, as there is nothing left of the ones he built in the plains.
Srinagar: An Architectural Legacy, Feisal Alkazi, Roli Books, R395. Expected in bookstores from May, 2014
Studying the roots of the Kashmiri language (Kashir) we can derive that it belongs to the Dardic group of languages, with its origins in the south of the Pamir mountains of Central Asia.
From studying its structure and its vocabulary, its links with the languages of surrounding areas is obvious. In the north, Shina (a Dardic language), in the east Balti and Ladki (Tibeto-Burman language), in the west Pahari and Punjabi, and in the south Dogri and Pahari, all of which are Indo-Aryan languages, have influenced Kashir. Historically, the language has been written in four scripts: Sharada, Devanagari,Arabic, and Roman.