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Naya Shehr-e-Khaas: J&K govt doubles efforts to restore pristine glory of old city

February 23, 2024
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Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir government has doubled its efforts to restore the pristine glory of Shehr-e-Khaas.

Works under the Srinagar Smart City project are expected to be completed this summer.

CEO of Srinagar Smart City Limited, Dr. Owais told The Kashmir Monitor that Shehr-e-Khaas is most integral to the development of Srinagar City. “Under the project of Srinagar Smart City Limited, Shehr-e-Khas is undergoing a remarkable transformation with its ongoing urban rejuvenation and revival project,” he said.

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Photo by Umar Ganie

 Shehr-e-Khaas, commonly referred to as downtown, is the most expansive and heavily populated neighborhood of Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir. Shehr-e-Khaas is home to heritage markets with a rich cultural legacy that draws large numbers of visitors. Around five kilometers from the city center, the area is mostly situated along the Jhelum River’s banks. Since it was the home of Srinagar’s first residents, the neighborhood is regarded as the city’s core.

Raja Pravarsena settled the area more than 2,000 years ago, in the third century BC. It is home to the majority of the ancient monuments built by Kashmir’s well-known monarchs. It is depicted that the residential buildings were built between the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The area’s ancient structures and monuments showcase bygone eras of architectural style. This location is the spiritual, religious, political, and moral center of all of Kashmir, home to numerous important mosques, including the Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta, Khanqah-e-Moula in Zana, Kadal Aali Masjid in Eidgah, Maharaj Ganj tomb in Maharaj Ganj, Pathar (stone) Masjid in Nawabazar, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jeelani’s shrine in Khanyar, and many others.

The projects under the Srinagar Smart City Limittd for the revival of Shehr-e- Khaas include the Improvement and upgradation along Dalgate -Gojwara Road, the Improvement and up-gradation along Nallah- Mar Road, the Improvement and upgradation of market Streets along Jamia Masjid and Malaratta, Improvement and upgradation of market Streets along Maharaj Gunj, Zaina Kadal, Bohri Kadal, Improvement and upgradation of market Streets along Ali Kadal, Nawakadal, and Jamalhatta, Façade improvement of heritage markets of Maharaj Gunj, Zaina Kadal, and Bohri Kadal, Improvement of Jhelum Ghats(yarbals) and riverfront in Shehr-e-Khaas.

Dr. Owais said that the emphasis of Srinagar Smart City Limited has been to improve the heritage markets of Shehr-e-Khaas along with the main access street and road leading to Shehr-e-Khas.

“The projects shall primarily improve the “quality of life” and enhance the heritage, cultural, and economic vitality of Shehr-e-Khaas,” he said.

According to official data, the tentative dates for the completion of projects include the Improvement and upgradation of market Streets along Jamia Masjid and Malaratta, market Streets along Maharaj Gunj, Zaina Kadal, Bohri Kadal and  Façade improvement of heritage markets of Maharaj Gunj, Zaina Kadal, and Bohri Kadal is May 2024.

 However,  the tentative dates for the completion of other projects which include Improvement and upgradation along Dalgate -Gojwara Road, Nallah-Mar Road, market Streets along Ali Kadal, Nawakadal, and Jamalhatta and Jhelum Ghats(yarbals), and riverfront in Shehr-e-Khaas is June 2024.

“The key interventions under the project of revival of Shehr-e-Khas include Development of pedestrian walkways, Pedestrian crossings/ramps for pedestrian safety, Improvement of road geometry, Uniform carriageway, On-street parking bays, Junction improvement and Placemaking, Undergrounding of electric utilities to arrest visual clutter. Public Amenities including barrier-free public toilets, Wayfinding signage, Laying of Drainage lines, Laying of Sewer Network, Rationalization of electric utilities, Illumination and Improvement of building facades,” said Dr. Owais.

General Manager, Planning and Urban Development, Anuj Malhotra told The Kashmir Monitor that most of the time-consuming work is underground work which is almost 95% completed now, the top surface work comes next. “The work is going at a fast pace and will be completed soon,” he said.

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Minzah Mehraj

Minzah Mehraj is a journalist based in Srinagar, Kashmir, and has covered health, education, business, and culture stories over the past 3 years. She holds a Masters and Honours Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication.

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