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Old November 12th, 2010, 12:27 PM   #41
rahim.katchi
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Traditional Art and Architecture in Hunza and Nager
JÜRGEN WASIM FREMBGEN

ROYAL FORTS
In their inner structure, the forts of Hunza very much reflect the age-old building traditions of the archaic house of the Central Asian mountain regions. In fact, they consist of a densely clustered and fortified agglomeration of such archaic, single-room housing units, each one centred on its ha, the core of the house, surrounded by four posts and a small roof opening to the sky.

The most ancient castle belonging to the royal dynasty of Hunza is situated on the edge of the village of Altit, in a commanding position on a cliff high above the Hunza river. Altit fort is probably around nine hundred years old, showing traces of several phases of construction. The oldest part of the building is to be found in a lantern-roofed room apparently used for official receptions. Laid out in the usual, roughly square form widespread in the Pamir, Hindukush, Karakoram and Western Himalaya, with the roof resting on four central wooden posts, it contains the most ancient surviving woodcarvings. The massive, elaborately carved post at the rear, relating to the platform on the right side of the room (which in private houses is still reserved for men), is of special significance, as it refers to the cosmological concept of the ‘pillar of the world’.1 Its profile tapers towards the triple voluted capital and it is intricately carved on all four sides within three delimited zones. Stepping outside the dark labyrinthine interior chambers, similar floral and geometric patterns on several broad decorative door frames attract the visitor’s eye, for instance the portals of the tall central watchtower (sixteenth century) and of the adjacent small one-room building. Remarkably, door panels are never carved.

Likewise, in the over seven-hundred-years-old Baltit fort (restored 1992-1996 by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture) with its more than seventy identified phases of construction, central posts and door frames feature particularly rich carving. The stylised patterns are finely executed in different grades of high and low relief, often grooved, but also deeply cut through as can be seen, for example, in the ruler’s bedroom on the second floor. Here, as well as in private houses, the door frames of the small cubicles, constructed in the corners of a room and used as storage space, show several narrow ornamental bands. Another element of interior architecture, typical for the private chambers of local palaces, are the decorative wooden niches inspired by the chini-khanas found between Ottoman Turkey and Iran in the west and Mughal India in the east. In Baltit fort, a beautiful older example can be seen in the queen’s room on the second floor. A more recent one, dating from the first half of the twentieth century, made in open latticework is found in the sunny living room on the second floor and was used to exhibit precious objects. Lattice windows serving ventilation are a traditional feature of local mosques, but in the royal palaces of Hunza and Nager and in some private homes they assume a dominant role as architectural components of attached verandas, creating dramatic effects of light and shade.

This sort of ‘open timberwork’ with geometric patterns set into rectangular panels is widely known in the subcontinent as jali. In the Karakoram it is known as Kashmiri panjira and has apparently been borrowed from Kashmir quite late, during the nineteenth century. Characteristic specimens can be seen on the veranda shading the royal dais and in the adjacent balcony of Baltit fort, both made by Ustad Surato, from Tsil- Ganish, in the early twentieth century, and in a more elaborate form in the distinguished house of the late Raja Muzafar ud-Din Shah in the village of Ghulmeth in Nager. Throughout the twentieth century and up to today, latticework has been extensively used for the decoration of Twelver Shia and Ismaili assembly halls in Hunza and Nager.

Jali-screens also constitute prominent architectural features of the last remaining
edifice formerly connected to the royal palace of Nager, situated on the glacier moraine in the main village of Uyum Nager. Judging by old drawings and oral descriptions, the former Nager fort was similar in construction to Baltit fort, but collapsed at the end of the nineteenth century.2 According to oral tradition, it was built by craftsmen and workers from Baltistan. Another palace, dismantled in the middle of the twentieth century,was then built further up the moraine, with an adjacent and still existing royal assembly hall. The latter is an almost quadrangular, flat-roofed pavilion (measuring 8.5 x 8 m) with pillars, round arches, and a multi-cusped arch for the entrance.

During court sessions, the ruler used to sit on a dais along the back wall of this reception hall (called marka thaang in the local Burushaski language) facing the qibla (prayer direction towards Mecca). The structure of the reception hall with its latticework on the front side and its three multi-cusped arches in the centre shows strong influences of provincial Mughal architecture mediated by craftsmen from Kashmir.3 According to oral traditions preserved in the families of carpenters (tarkhan) in Nager, it was Ustad Kudu from Srinagar who was invited by Mir Sikandar Khan at the end of the 1890s to construct this reception hall in Uyum Nager. He stayed for a year and collaborated with local craftsmen. The painted ceiling of the pavilion with its sun discs in different shapes also dates from that period. It is further narrated that a famous Kashmiri carpenter named Ustad Sono, who settled in Gilgit, had already come to Nager in the time of Tham Zafar Khan (who ruled de facto 1839-1892) to embellish the old fort and adjacent wooden porticoes.

Citation: Bianca, Stefano, ed. 2007. Karakoram: Hidden Treasures in the Northern Areas of Pakistan, 2nd ed. Turin, Italy: Umberto Allemandi & Co.
Author/Editor: Stefano Bianca, ed.
Publication Date: 2007
Copyright: Aga Khan Trust for Culture


Baltit Fort

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Old November 13th, 2010, 11:29 PM   #42
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Old December 12th, 2010, 09:24 AM   #43
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Altit Fort (Currently under restoration)

The fort is sited on a two rocks; the eastern rock is higher as compared to the western rock. The fort has been constructed in six different stages by using the various natural levels of the rock. The first level is located before the western side edge of the rock, which is containing a two floor building built in the first stage of the construction.The second level, contains a single floor building which was also constructed in the first stage of construction. These were built over 800 years ago. A three floor watch tower was constructed during the second and third stages of construction while the storage space was constructed during the third stage of construction. The mosque was constructed during the fourth stage of construction. A grain storage was constructed during the fifth stage of construction. In the sixth stage of construction the guest rooms were constructed after removing the grain storage located on the eastern side of the rock. Narrow corridors are used for accessing the construction at lower levels, while the mosque the storage area and the guest rooms can be easily accessed from the watch tower.

The Main entrance faces Ulter and opens into the ground floor narrow dark corridor which leads to a space with two small storage spaces inside it located on the east and western side. The main space contains a rectangular structure which physically seems a supporting structure made of rubble stone and cribbage frames has a story related to it. The story is of a prince who has been buried in standing position inside the structure; he was killed by his father after believing of his son's involvement in a plan against his kingdom. The ground floor corridor further leads westward to a stair made of rubble stone masonry which connects it to the first floor. The first floor contains the royal kitchen which has the richest carving patterns on the column and the capitals. This kitchen used to be full of activities during the cooking of food for the agricultural festivals.

On the eastern side of the Royal Kitchen there is a lobby with a skylight containing the main door of the corridor which is laid out north south. The space located at the northern edge of the corridor is the royal room which is a traditional house with the spaces for sleeping, sitting, cooking, and two small storage spaces, a toilet and storage space on the south side of the room. The space at the south edge is the Royal Rani's (Queen) Room, this has a fire place in the north wall and it has the traditional roof structure with the rotated square. From the north edge of the corridor further is the corridor which is laid out east west ward leads to stairs made of rubble stone masonry.

After climbing these stairs there is the three floor watch tower constructed. The storage space is located at the south side of the tower and it is located at the higher level of the rock. The mosque, the royal throne and the guest rooms are at the north side of the watch tower with a minor level difference. Structurally the watch tower is rich in features containing cribbage work and mud brick infill, with windows looking in all directions. The royal throne is placed in front of the mosque on the eastern side with a panoramic view of the Altit settlement."

The fort is being restored by the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme.

Source: Taken from Northern Areas Development Gateway Website. http://www.northernareas.gov.pk/13.htm [Accessed April 22, 2005]

Nearly a third of the homes had been abandoned. New construction was using up valuable arable land.

In an attempt to address this phenomenon and pre-empt the socio-economic consequences expected from a tourism boom, conservation efforts at Altit proceeded in reverse order: the village rehabilitation before the Fort. As in Karimabad, the introduction of water and sanitation facilities has proven vital to the revitalisation of the traditional settlement.

The conservation strategy for Altit Fort developed in 2004 calls for preservation “as found”, that is, basically as an empty shell. Most conservation works relate to mending structural defects, stabilising and repairing existing walls, replacing some roofs, treating wood decay and providing appropriate lighting.


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Old December 12th, 2010, 09:26 AM   #44
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Altit Fort (Currently under restoration)

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Old December 12th, 2010, 09:33 AM   #45
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Altit Fort (Currently under restoration)

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Old December 12th, 2010, 09:37 AM   #46
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Altit Fort (Currently under restoration)

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Old December 12th, 2010, 09:41 AM   #47
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Altit Fort (Currently under restoration)

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Old December 12th, 2010, 02:28 PM   #48
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Conservation & Development in Baltit Village

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Old December 12th, 2010, 02:34 PM   #49
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Conservation & Development in Baltit Village

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Old December 12th, 2010, 02:46 PM   #50
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Conservation & Development in Baltit Village

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Old December 12th, 2010, 03:08 PM   #51
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Conservation & Development in Shigar Village

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Old May 6th, 2011, 12:00 PM   #52
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Shigar Fort

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Old September 3rd, 2011, 01:12 PM   #53
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AKTC Receives 2011 UNESCO Award for Culture Heritage Conservation

Bangkok, 1 September 2011 - The restoration of Altit Fort in Pakistan, an Aga Khan Trust for Culture project undertaken by the Aga Khan Cultural Service, has received an Award of Distinction at the 2011 UNESCO Asian-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.

Conservation works for the 900-year-old Altit Fort focused on mending structural defects, stabilising and repairing existing walls, replacing some roofs, treating wood decay and providing appropriate lighting.

“The Award of Distinction winner Altit Fort in Hunza, Pakistan represents yet another step forward in the model of community-based conservation practice that has been evolving in the body of work of the Aga Khan Cultural Service of Pakistan,” says the UNESCO Citation. “Meticulous historical research and scientific investigation informed the conservation work, which successfully tackled a complex array of problems. Today the building has regained its iconic place in the Hunza Valley and now serves as a beacon to inspire future generations.”

A unique aspect of the work was that the village at the base of the fort was restored before the fort. The village had been in danger of becoming deserted in favour of new construction; a third of its residents had already moved away. Because the new construction was using up valuable arable land, conservation efforts at Altit proceeded in reverse order: the village rehabilitation before the Fort. The introduction of water and sanitation facilities proved vital to the revitalisation of the traditional settlement.

The UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation present the awards in the belief that “recognising private efforts to restore and adapt historic properties will encourage other property owners to undertake conservation projects within the community, either independently or by seeking public-private partnerships”.

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Old January 9th, 2013, 08:52 AM   #54
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Khaplu Palace wins international award

SKARDU: The 19th century Khaplu Palace, which has been renovated and turned into a residential building, has won the international award in poverty reduction.

The palace, built in the 1840s by Raja Yabgo and renamed as Khaplu Palace and Residence (KP&R), won the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards in poverty reduction on November 7, 2012, according to a press release. The palace, managed by the Serena Hotels, embodies Tibetan, Balti and Kashmiri styles, and welcomes guests to experience an upscale authentic heritage.

Work on the renovation of the palace is an example of the pre-eminent cultural heritage surviving in Baltistan, the renovation process was initiated in 2005 and was completed in 2011.

Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (AKCSP), an affiliate of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), part of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), carried out the renovation and restoration work.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan has already conserved and brought into reuse Baltit and Altit Forts in Hunza and Shigar Fort in Baltistan. Generous funding for restoration was provided by the ministry of foreign affairs of Norway through the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Islamabad and AKTC.

USAID under the title of ‘USAID small grants and ambassador’s fund programme (SGAFP)’ has also set up the ‘Balti Folk Exhibition Centre’ in Khaplu Palace, putting on display Balti folk artifacts, local handicrafts and other traditional items. The exhibition centre occupies two-third of the space of the palace.

These artifacts are the centre-piece of the attraction of the palace. The SGAFP has taken all out efforts to ensure conservation standards and authenticity of the items, which describe the history of the area, and also to spur social and economic benefits in one of the remotest and poorest regions of Baltistan.

http://dawn.com/2012/12/11/khaplu-pa...ational-award/
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Old January 9th, 2013, 08:57 AM   #55
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CONSERVATION OF KHAPLU FORT







http://www.chaipluscake.com/2012/12/...residence.html
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Old January 9th, 2013, 08:59 AM   #56
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CONSERVATION OF KHAPLU FORT







http://www.chaipluscake.com/2012/12/...residence.html
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Old January 9th, 2013, 09:00 AM   #57
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CONSERVATION OF KHAPLU FORT







http://www.chaipluscake.com/2012/12/...residence.html
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Old January 9th, 2013, 09:01 AM   #58
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CONSERVATION OF KHAPLU FORT







http://www.chaipluscake.com/2012/12/...residence.html
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Old January 9th, 2013, 09:57 AM   #59
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CONSERVATION OF KHAPLU FORT







http://www.chaipluscake.com/2012/12/...residence.html
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Old January 11th, 2013, 08:33 AM   #60
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CONSERVATION OF KHAPLU FORT

Khaplu Palace & Residence (KPR) offers guests the privilege of experiencing a unique complex of historical buildings dating back to 1840s. These historical monuments have been brought back to life following a carefully designed strategy of adaptive re-use and restoration. This Palace was restored by Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (AKCS-P) in conjunction with Tourism Promotion Services (Pakistan) Limited.

Khaplu Palace & Residence is located at the upper side of the Khaplu Town; a beautiful part of the Baltistan region. Its picturesque seating, attractive landscape and culturally dominated features are ideal for explorers, researchers, adventurers and those with a love for nature and culture and for leisure activities.

In a region rich in cultural heritage, Khaplu Palace is certainly the finest surviving example of a Royal Residence in Baltistan. It is located on the legendry route to the world’s greatest junction of three mighty glaciers at Concordia. In terms of architectural heritage and cultural expression, it has arguably more treasures than Shigar Fort, possibly as a result of its closeness to both Leh in Ladakh and Srinagar in Kashmir.

Khaplu Palace and Residence is a unique heritage Boutique Hotel which offers guests the opportunity to experience the restored original architecture of a 19th century Raja Palace, while enjoying the modern amenities and services of a luxury Hotel.







www.serenahotels.com
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