Islamabad, September 30: The Gulabpur Khanqah in Shigar valley, Skardu, Baltistan was recently awarded the 2010 Asia-Pacific Award of Distinction in Cultural Heritage by Unesco. For nine consecutive times, the Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (AKCSP), which is the operational arm of the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme (AKHCP) of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) in Pakistan, has won a Unesco Asia Pacific Cultural Heritage Award for its conservation efforts in Gilgit-Baltistan.
The more prominent awards won earlier being for Baltit Fort in Hunza and Shigar Fort in Baltistan. A total of 33 entries, from 14 countries in the region, were submitted for consideration. The conservation project entries included museums, hotels, cultural institutions, educational institutions, religious sites, industrial sites, public institutions, residential buildings, urban districts and islands.
From 2008 to 2009 the conservation and rehabilitation of the Gulabpur Khanqah was carried out by the Gulabpur community who contributed around 40 percent of the total costs in cash and kind, with AKCSP providing technical advice. Financial assistance was provided by the German Embassy in Islamabad.
The conservation project of Gulabpur Khanqah – a mosque with meditation chambers – has saved a unique historic monument which served as the long time centre of social, cultural and religious activities for the surrounding communities. The project demonstrates the inclusion of yet another building typology in the grassroots conservation movement already active in Shigar. “A great sense of commitment was demonstrated by the Gulabpur community, which makes the project an exemplar of community-led architectural restoration undertaken with a view toward sustaining living cultural traditions,” said Salman Beg, CEO – AKCSP upon receiving the award.
The 331 year old Gulabpur Khanqah is located in Gulabpur village sited on the western bank of Shigar river about 10 km upstream of its confluence with the river Indus near Skardu. The monument is accessible through the link road of Arandu valley, which is the main tourist attraction due to the Chago Lungma Glacier and the Golden Peak.
The Khanqah displays typical architectural features of Baltistan, among which the double roof with the classical Tibetan tower on top is most salient. The building is characterised by cribbage walls, as well as impressive wooden pillars and a painted wooden ceiling inside the prayer hall.-PR