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Occupied by forces, Parimahal on verge of ‘collapse’

Srinagar, Nov 23: One of the famous heritage sites in Kashmir, Parimahal is on the “verge of collapse” due to its ‘occupation by the government forces’.
Parimahal, ‘angels of abode’, is a seven-layeredd garden located at the top of Zabarwan mountain range overlooking the city of Srinagar and south-west of Dal Lake.
It was built by Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh in the mid-1600s. However, over 400-year-old heritage site is in a dilapidated condition, as it has been virtually abandoned by the authorities due to its occupation by the government forces.
As per the documents from the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir’s office, the absence of maintenance, regulation on walls has posed a “severe threat” to the monument.
“The walls right from the main gate comprising of Hamam, hall, and library are on the verge of collapse in absence of repairs. The repairment cannot be taken up due to occupation of the site by security forces. The structure may get more damaged or even collapse if not repaired,” the document reads.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee of Tourism and Culture, Government of India, during its recent visit to the monument has held that the structure should be vacated by the forces in order to take conservation work on a priority basis, the document says.
The police has informed the government that occupation of Parimahal by forces dates back to early ’90s, with a BSF platoon assigned the responsibility of protecting all dignitaries residing at Cheshmashahi including the Governor.
However, police, as per the documents, has told the government that a balanced view may be obtained or an alternate nearby location may be provided to the BSF platoon, “in case of any threat to the centrally-protected site”.
However, the BSF has claimed its platoon at Parimahal “does not comprise of more than 10 to 12 men”.
Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, who also holds the additional charge of LAWDA VC, believes that security cover should continue for area domination.
“Yet, the monument having national importance like Pari Mahal cannot be mistreated or devoid of upkeep,” he said.
An official of Archeological Survey of India said Parimahal was both a world heritage as well as Archeological Survey of India centrally-protected site as listed by UNESCO.
“The issue about its occupation by forces has been raised with the government several times. Government is now considering to provide some alternate site with pre-fabricated huts to the forces,” the official added.
Parimahal served as a library and an abode for Dara Shikoh, who was said to have lived in this area in the years 1640, 1645, and 1654.
It was further used as an observatory, useful for teaching astrology and astronomy.
The gardens have since become the property of the Jammu and Kashmir government.