The Bold Voice of J&K


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As the Kashmir Valley is limping back to normalcy the restoration of retrieved valuable artifacts which are remnants of a glorious history would be an uphill task for the agencies involved and would take years to complete. The floods ravaged some of the rare manuscripts and objects of historical values housed in two buildings– Shri Pratap Singh Museum and the Academy of Art, Culture and Languages. Both buildings are situated several feet below road level, leaving them vulnerable to floods. The floodwater did not spare these two structures. The entire ground floor of the museum was under water; which housed several rare artifacts, ancient texts, manuscripts and pieces of art. These have remained submerged for days. The museum has sludge on the tables, artifacts and many other items. A few of the academy buildings were also under water. Among other things, damage has been caused to Sixth Century Gilgit manuscripts, more than 30 antique shawls including one presented to Queen Victoria, over 100 papier mache objects, writings in Kashmir’s old Sharda script, rare handwritten copies of Bhagwad Gita in Sharda and illuminated Qurans in the 116 year old  Shri  Pratap Singh Museum in Srinagar. Adding to the loss incurred due to natural calamity, could be the callous handling of the valuable damaged artifacts by the official agencies. An initial survey carried out by  Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) cements the fears that many retrieved art works have been left to dry in the open and at the mercy of stray animals. This speaks of the expertise handling. At the academy whatever the valuables the faculty and artists could save is what they have and a large number of modern and contemporary works of art have gone in the floods. Though there is concern and anguish over the loss of human lives and part of Kashmir history, the restoration work will take years before they are brought to some respectable shape. Most of the works are in critical state. This is a stupendous task for the agencies involved in the restoration works.

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