BY: Mohamad Haseeb Shah
The significance of the Bridges in the Srinagar since 14th Century CE played an important role in connectivity and socioeconomic activities of the people.There were a series of bazaars along the riverfront at the junction of the bridges which formed the hub of commercial activity within the Mohallas. The development being linear the bazaars served the mohallas in proximity to it within a radius of approximately 2 to 3 kms. The bridge formed the center of the cluster as it were on either side. Thus the city could be linearly sub-divided into series of clusters with the bridges forming the center of each, or the pivot around which the community evolved. The clusters were known by the name of the bridge in close proximity to it. The market served the clusters for their day to day needs. The shops were specialized in nature and included large showrooms, eating places, large textile shops, groceries etc. The bridges were wide and the movement was generally pedestrian. The river physically divided the settlement into two but the bridges integrated the development so perfectly that this division was never felt and it appeared as one homogeneous settlement. This was due to the fact that the bridges converged so to speak all activity within the neighborhood.
One of the important factors of development is the communication i.e transport system. In the pre-1947 era the system was very slow. Reportedly there was very limited roads of bad quality and frequency of modern means of transport was very meagre or not available at all for masses.The traditional transport were employed such as tangas,water transport, and carts. Most of the people travelled on foot.
Hence, keeping in view the socioeconomic and historical importance of theses bridges the following recommendations are given here;
- Reviving the Jhelum as a prime channel of movement with the buildings along the waterfront restored of their original glory with their ornately carved eaves, projected bay windows or dubs and screens etc.
- Restoring the temples and important shrines along the waterfront so that they act as important landmarks along the landscape.
- Special references to these bridges discussed above, the waterfront has all the potential to be one of the unique architectural development in the region, where the people are strongly rooted to their tradition and still maintain a strong cultural identity.
- Design the waterfront as an interesting settlement whereby the tourists too could get an insight into the traditional lifestyles of the people.
- Last but not the least, lay down specific guidelines for all building works within the heritage zone with special reference to the bridges.
Author is a student of Kashmir University can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org