Dogra architecture gets a revival at J&K’s Maharaj Gunj
Srinagar Smart City Ltd. and INTACH collaborate to restore Maharaj Gunj market’s architectural elements, restoring rare architectural elements introduced by Dogra Hindu kings between 1846 and 1947.
What is the objective of the Initiative?
- The principal objective of the project is to reinstate the historical splendour of the Maharaj Gunj market, which has declined over several decades as a result of encroachments and deviations. It seeks to highlight the distinctive architectural features that the Hindu Dogra monarchs brought to Kashmir between 1846 and 1947.
Where is Maharaj Gunj Market Located?
- This Maharaj Gunj is the oldest market, also called Shri Ranbir Gunj, is a maze of lanes and by-lanes that lies near Aali Kadal in Sri Nagar
- Currently, there are over a thousand stores in the market, 150 of which are wholesalers that are fighting to sell their goods.
Who were the Dogras ruling family?
- The founder of the Dogra dynasty was Maharaja Gulab Singh Jamwal (1792-1857).
- He was Jammu and Kashmir’s first Maharaja, a princely kingdom.
- From the 19th century until October 1947, Jammu was ruled by the Dogra Rajputs, who belonged to the Jamwal clan. Under the 1846 Treaty of Amritsar, they were able to obtain Kashmir.
What are the artistic values that the Market holds?
- Architectural Diversity: There is a wide variety of colonial and vernacular architecture in the market area. With residences on the top stories and shops on the ground, many structures have multiple uses. These buildings are built in the traditional dhajji dewari and taq styles.
- Rich Architectural Legacy: The market is home to several four-story structures with incredibly elaborate exteriors and interiors that pay homage to Srinagar’s rich architectural history.
What is the historical significance of the place?
- Historical Significance: Maharaja Ranbir Singh founded the Maharaj Gunj market, which is located in the centre of Srinagar’s old city, to promote trade and business in Kashmir. It was a hive of trade before 1947, drawing traders from well-known places like Amritsar, Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi, and even portions of Central Asia.
- Cultural past: As a component of the Srinagar Smart City Mission, the restoration project is anticipated to draw attention to the city’s rich cultural past. This covers not just the marketplace but also gurdwaras, mosques, temples, tombs, and ancient sanctuaries.
What are the challenges faced by the team?
- Challenges: The extent of the deviations and encroachments in the area makes the restoration a challenging task. To preserve the site’s historic character, several improper interventions—such as eaves boards, deteriorating wooden soffits, and rusting roof sheets—need to be removed.
In conclusion, the Maharaj Gunj market restoration project is a cooperative attempt to restore the area’s historical attractiveness while highlighting its distinctive architectural features and cultural relevance and resolving the issues brought on by encroachments and deviations.