The restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s two most prominent Mughal Gardens – Nishat Bagh and Shalimar Bagh – has started a month after the government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the JSW Foundation for conservation of the UT’s heritage places.

Conservation architect, Abha Narain Lambah, who is working with JSW Foundation, gave a detailed briefing to Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Wednesday on the work being undertaken by the team for preservation and restoration of Shalimar and Nishat gardens.

“The Lt Governor impressed upon the conservation architect to conduct the work of conservation, restoration, and preservation meticulously for restoring the original beauty and grandeur of the famous heritage gardens,” a spokesperson of the government said.

Shalimar Bagh is the largest Mughal garden in Kashmir built by Emperor Jahangir for his wife Noor Jahan in 1619, on the banks of Dal Lake in northeast Srinagar.

Built in 1633 by Asif Khan, the picturesquely terraced Nishat Bagh is also a Mughal garden situated close to the Shalimar on the eastern side of the Dal Lake. The Zabarwan Mountains form the background of the garden.

In March 2020, Lambah, who runs an architectural conservation firm, was also appointed by J&K government to prepare a dossier to enlist prominent tourists’ spots of Kashmir like Mughal Gardens on the UNESCO World Heritage sites. Lambah’s firm has won 9 UNESCO Asia Pacific Awards for conservation projects.

On July 28, the J&K Government inked a MoU with JSW Foundation, which is a social arm of multinational conglomerate JSW Group, for restoration & conservation of the gardens to restore the glory of these heritage places.

The JSW Foundation is supporting the government of J&K, both financially and technically in preserving the two heritage gardens under corporate social responsibility (CSR), the government spokesperson had said.

After the MoU, the J&K LG had said that was giving much-needed impetus to integrate the promotion of cultural heritage in UT’s development plan in order to connect the people from across the world with the glorious history of J&K.

With its technical expertise, the support of the JSW foundation is expected to provide a “determined push” to the conservation work of the heritage gardens.

The project for restoration and conservation of Shalimar and Nishat gardens is being monitored by the project monitoring committee, headed by the Commissioner Secretary to Government, Department of Floriculture Gardens and Parks.

The project is being taken up in two phases. The estimated cost of the conservation and restoration project of Nishat Bagh is ₹7 crore while a similar project is envisaged for Shalimar Bagh also.

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