Other States

Returning the spotlight to Srinagar’s built heritage

Kashmir’s Bollywood connections proved a right mix to make people reconnect with the past.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

 

Placing characters from cult Bollywood movies, like those played by Naseerudin Shah and Rekha in Umrao Jaan, and Meena Kumari and Nadira in Pakeezah, in the backdrop of the dying heritage bazaars of the 5,000-year-old city of Srinagar, Zoya Khan, 31, an architect and heritage enthusiast, is succeeding in putting a spotlight on the waning architectural character of the J&K capital.

Created over the past three years, Ms. Zoya’s thematic work ‘Houses of Kashmir’ is fast adorning the walls of the Valley’s popular hotels and homes and, at the same time, creating awareness about lost heritage.

“I frequented the old city while being part of a team drafting Srinagar’s master plan in 2017. My area of intervention was heritage. I went back to areas in 2020 and the houses I saw in 2017 did not exist, in the absence of by-laws or protection status. My works are also an attempt at cataloguing lost heritage,” said Ms. Khan, who is pursuing her Masters at the Oxford Brookes University in International Architectural Regeneration and Development, told The Hindu.

Kashmir’s Bollywood connections proved a right mix to make people reconnect with the past. “It came instinctively to me to place characters from cult movies like Umrao Jaan and Pakeezah in the bazaars of the old city. The clothes they wore in the movies go with the place. These pictures also capture the time and space of the bygone era. People liked it instantly. It’s like romanticising the past,” Ms. Khan added.

'Houses of Kashmir’ is fast adorning the walls of the Valley’s popular hotels and homes and, at the same time, creating awareness about lost heritage.

'Houses of Kashmir’ is fast adorning the walls of the Valley’s popular hotels and homes and, at the same time, creating awareness about lost heritage.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

 

Srinagar, once a hub of cinemas and film posters, has lost all its 11 theatres over the last tumultuous 30 years.

For Ms. Khan, heritage houses have “faces to remember all the times to come”. “People take portraits of people and don’t forget about them. In the same fashion, each heritage house comes across as distinct, with unique features, and needs to be remembered. It’s also a journey, a way to document and understand them,” she adds.

Being a city planner, Ms. Khan believes putting up the ordinary and mundane through a new perspective is the key to make people reconnect with the past. “The bazaars of the old city continue to be unique in the way life unfolds every day,” she added.

The heritage houses of Srinagar are a unique mix of the influences of three civilisations (Indian, Chinese and Persian) besides colonial and vernacular elements.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 5:31:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/returning-the-spotlight-to-srinagars-built-heritage/article33205829.ece

Next Story