Friday, September 4, 2015

Sher Garhi Palace as it Was



Last month received an email from INTACH (Srinagar), they will be using the images shared by SearchKashmir to help with the renovation of Sher Garhi Palace. Here are the images and some elementary back info. about the place.

Located on the left bank of River Jhelum near the Budshah Bridge. Built originally by Afghan governor Ameer Jawan Sher Qizilbash in around 1772. It is said the stones for the palace came from Pathar Masjid. It was built on a site where King Ananta had built his Royal Palace in 1062-63. Later it became palace of Dogras who added a Dogra art touch to it. Sometime before 1900, the palace was again renovated in faux Greco-Roman style with great Grecian columns. A major portion was destroyed in fire, I believe, in late 1970s. This building was the "Old Secretariat". It was used as an office building in 1980s. A description of the palace and the adjoining buildings can be found in "The Happy Valley: Sketches of Kashmir & the Kashmiris (1879) by William Wakefield".

Pursuing our course down the river the sides of which in former days were em- banked from the first to the last bridge, by an embankment composed of large blocks of limestone, of which at present the ruined remains are all that is left we soon come to a large building, the Sher Garhi, the city fort and palace. Situated on the left bank, it presents to the river, which flows along its eastern side, a long loop- holed wall, with bastions rising between twenty and thirty feet above the general level of the water, surmounted by roomy, but lightly-built, houses. Its southern and western sides are protected by a wide ditch ; the Kut-i-Kul canal bounds it on the north, and in its interior are grouped a number of dwelling- houses for the officials of the court, government offices, and barracks. On its wall, facing the river, and perched upon one of the bastions, is a large double-storied house, the abode of the Dewan or Prime Minister, and just below his residence is a long lofty building, the government treasury, containing shawls, 'pushmeena,' coin, and other valuable property. A curious-looking wooden building comes next, the Rang Mahal or 'audience hall,' a part of the royal residence, which is just below it, styled the Baradarri, and which is unquestionably the most important modern structure in Srinagar. It is a large irregular building of a peculiar style, for while partly of native architecture, one portion, with a large projecting bow, partakes somewhat of an European character. A flight of wide stone steps leads up from the water's edge at the angle of this building, and conducts into the palace. Adjoining is the temple frequented by the ruler and family, called the Maharaj-ke-Mandir, the domed roof of which is covered with thin plates of pure gold, which glitters in the sunlight, causing it to be plainly perceptible a long distance away. To reach the interior of the palace, one ascends by the before -mentioned steps, which at all times of the day appear thronged with people, some waiting to prefer petitions to the sovereign or his ministers as they descend to their boats, others to obtain a hearing or justice, which is here administered in open court daily by the governor. To the more private portion of the palace they have no access ; for, guarding the gateway at the top of the stairs which leads directly into the royal abode, stands a sentry, a warrior belonging to the Kashmir, army, and near by is the guard-room, what we should call in our service the main-guard.
View of the Place before the last renovation
Probably by Samuel Bourne
in around 1860s


Sher Garhi Palace, the Summer place of 19th-century Dogra ruler, Pratap Singh. From 'The Romantic East: Burma, Assam, & Kashmir' by Walter Del Mar (1906

Sher Garhi Palace. From Dutch travelogue 'De zomer in Kaschmir : De Aarde en haar Volken' (Summer in Kashmir: 'The Land and its Peoples) by F. Michel (1907)

From 'The road to Shalimar' by Carveth Wells, 1952.

view of Sher Garhi Palace in winter.
Postcard. Early 20th century. [courtesy: Micheal Thomas]

from 'Our summer in the vale of Kashmir' (1915) by Frederick Ward Denys.

From 'Kashmir: Its New Silk Industry' by Sir Thomas Wardle (1904)

Illustrated Weekly of London. 1921.

Postcard. 1920s.
[via: ebay]

From National Geographic. 1921.

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