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Art and culture

First Art and Culture Centre in the Kashmir Valley

The beautiful state of Jammu and Kashmir has a rich heritage of art and culture. There is diversity in the art and craft, dance and music, literature, architecture as well as the festivals celebrated in Kashmir. Handicrafts of the Kashmir Valley are famous across the globe; in fact, they are an important industry that generates good revenue for the state. Kashmir shawls and carpets, as everyone knows, are immensely popular in India and exported on a large scale to many other countries. Given this richness and diversity in the art and culture of Kashmir, it was only right for this state to have an art and culture centre of its own.

Recognizing the necessity to preserve the cultural heritage of Kashmir, and realizing that the artists in Kashmir indeed required a platform to showcase their work, the government has established the first art and culture centre in Srinagar. An 18th century building, which was earlier used as the civil secretariat, has been transformed into an Art and Culture Centre. Artists and art lovers are very happy with this initiative.

Mushtaq Ahmad Beigh, Deputy Director, Archives, said that they had given a DPR to the government of India for funding of around 137 crores for the construction of this centre. According to him, the stone building has already been converted into an art museum, and the centre will be used to display artefacts and paintings by artisans in Kashmir as well as for holding art exhibitions. It will be used to promote the art and culture of this state.

Since many years, artists in the Kashmir Valley wished for a platform to exhibit their art. Three years ago, their voice was heard when the Government of Jammu and Kashmir with the help of the Central Government started work on establishing an arts and culture centre in Srinagar. It was decided that the old building of the Shergari Palace would be converted into an art and culture centre.

The Shergari Palace, or Sher Garhi, was built in 1772 during the rule of Afghan governor Jawansher Khan. Later, it was used by the Dogra rulers and then, as the State Assembly and Legislative Council and Administrative Secretariat. Today, this building houses Kashmir’s first art and culture centre.

This complex includes an L-shaped heritage building that was constructed during the Dogra rule, Block C Old Building, a heritage structure, and the Old Assembly Building that was used as a Legislative Assembly from 1947.

The entry to this centre is free and the timings are 10 am to 5 pm. It is open on all days except Monday. According to Ghulam Jeelani Malik, an officer at the museum, the centre is getting a very good response from students and art lovers who visit this centre in huge numbers.

This art and culture centre displays works of old as well as contemporary artists of Kashmir. Scholars, students, new painters as well as art connoisseurs access to this centre. Art camps will be conducted where artists from other states will be called upon to allow cultural exchange.

From 300-year-old paintings to works by modern artists, this art and culture centre in Srinagar treasures a wide variety of art and craft works, and is proving to be instrumental in preserving the art and heritage of Jammu and Kashmir.

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