Srinagar: An Urban Anthropological Analysis

Srinagar: An Urban Anthropological Analysis

A Brief History of the Region

Kashmir is the northern most portion of India, it along with Jammu and Ladakh form the province of Jammu and Kashmir. This province is situated in the Himalayas and sits atop the geographical map of India like a Crown. It has sporadically been described as one of the most beautiful topographic points on Earth. The Kashmir vale surrounded by the Himalayas and fed by the pristine H2O of the Jhelum River which snakes through vales make the part a Eden. The reference of this topographic point in the antediluvian scriptures has ever been abound with congratulationss. Kalhana’s Rajatarangini is one of the most celebrated treatise on Kashmir. It provides a elaborate history of the nature of society in Kashmir. In the sentiment of Kalhana, Kashmir has been a hallmark for five things, which are larning, Crocus sativus, icy H2O, grapes and exalted houses ( Punjabi 1990 ) .

The vale is celebrated for its rich cultural and traditional history. It has been a runing pot of assorted civilizations, traditions, individualities and faiths. Its popular civilization is of assimilation and inclusiveness which has been formed over centuries. The vale has been a centre of cognition, larning and argument. It was during the reign of Emperor Ashoka that a bookman named Madhyantika settled here and finally founded the Mahayana religious order of Buddhism ( Punjabi 1990 ) . Islam the most dominant faith in the vale came here from Central Asia and Iran and this has contributed vastly to the development of civilization of tolerance and assimilation. Islam here was more accommodating and receptive of the local civilization ( Puri 1990 ) . This civilization called as ‘Kashmiriyat’ has been the trademark of the Kashmiri people. It has been a beacon of hope in this modern-day universe where force and extremism are dominant. It is a resemblance of the fact that a civilization which is assimilative, tolerant and believes in communal harmoniousness can be and does be. Kashmiriyat represents a cultural infinite which imparts the local people a distinguishable individuality which separates them from others.

Srinagar as a City Space

Srinagar which is the capital of Jammu and Kashmir is situated in the Kashmir vale. It lies on the Bankss of Jhelum River. The metropolis was founded by Pravarasena ( Corporation 2010 ) . It is the summer capital of the province, while the winter capital is Jammu. There is a periodic motion of capital between the two topographic points. It is celebrated universe over for its beautiful lakes, gardens and houseboats. Its name ‘Srinagar’ comprises of two Sanskrit words ‘Sri’ intending ‘to agreement respect’ and ‘nagar’ significance ‘city’ . Basically the name means ‘great city’ ( Authority 2015 ) . Bing a metropolis based on the Bankss of a river its development and development have been inherently linked to Jhelum. In the mediaeval period the societal and cultural life of the people revolved around the river ( Network 2009 ) . Furthermore the river besides served as a major transit channel both for goods every bit good every bit people as it was hard to build any roads due to hard terrain. Thus it can be observed that the river was the line of life of the people of Srinagar in the yesteryear. It provided them an avenue from where they earned their life by prosecuting in the trade of different trade goods along the river. The river represents commercial infinite every bit good as public infinite.

Bridges as Connections and Spaces themselves

Bing situated along the Bankss of a river, Bridgess have played a important portion in the day-to-day lives of the local people. The metropolis is known for its eight Bridgess, viz. , Amira Kadal, Haba Kadal, Fateh Kadal, Zein Kadal, Ali Kadal, Nawa Kadal, Safa Kadal and Zorr Kadal, where ‘kadal’ means ‘bridge’ in Kashmiri ( Joshi 2014 ) . These Bridgess were made of wood which was non common during the clip they were built. The river played a major portion in the building of these Bridgess as immense logs of wood were transported by the river downstream ( Joshi 2014 ) . These Bridgess were genuinely the line of life of the local folks and are a portraiture of Kashmiri architecture after the 14Thursdaycentury as these Bridgess were built after that ( is 2012 ) . Each of these Bridgess has a narrative of its ain and they represent an unfastened infinite.

Religious and Tourist Hotspots as Different Types of Spaces

Srinagar has many major sanctum shrines and spiritual topographic points. The of import facet is that people of all the religions and beliefs visit these shrines and temples with equal fear. There is no segregation among the people of different religions sing these topographic points. The civilization of tolerance and inclusiveness has fostered communal harmoniousness which embodies itself in trust and regard which these people have for each other. This civilization can be attributed to Sufi Islam and Sufi saints such as Lal Dedh and Sheikh Nooruddin Noorani who ever encouraged their followings to handle people of different religions every bit and with regard ( Sikand 2004 ) .

The Hari Parvat is one of the holiest topographic points in the vale. It is situated on the outskirts of Srinagar and looks over it. It has three spiritual sites, one is the shrine of Sheikh Hamza Makhdoom, so the Chakreshwari Devi temple and gurudwara Chatti Padshahi on its inclines. This hill emerges as a centre of spiritual assimilation where the sacred infinite of three different religions, Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism merge into each other. All the three sites have fables and folklores associated with them which invoke an attitude of awe and fear amongst the people.

Srinagar is celebrated for its Dal Lake. This lake has provided employment to many fishermen and houseboat proprietors. The tourers come and stay in the house boats and research the lake in boats called ‘shikaras’ . These boats represent the private infinite for the tourers while the lake represents public infinite. But for the boat proprietors both the house boat and the lake represent a commercial infinite as they use both the trade goods to gain their support. Along with the houseboat proprietors other people besides use the commercial infinite of the lake for their support such as souvenir stores, bakeshops and many other trade goods can be purchased within the locality of the houseboats. Along with the lake the gardens in Srinagar are besides really celebrated and attract big figure of tourers. The three gardens Chashmashahi, Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh. These three gardens were built by the Mughals and expose their construct of architecture and sense of design. They have a picturesque puting with terraced lawns, bright flower beds and fountains, these gardens are situated overlooking the Dal Lake and are a dainty for the eyes ( Corporation 2010 ) . These gardens represent unfastened populace infinites where anyone can come for diversion.

The Hazratbal shrine is one of the holiest topographic points for Muslims in the part. It contains a hair of Prophet Mohammad which is shown to the visitants on particular yearss ( India, Peace to Prosperity- Kashmiiriyat and Shrines 2007 ) . This shrine is a major tourer attractive force. It acts as a sacred infinite for the people.

State Authority as Constructor and Convertor of Space

The metropolis has a population of 1.2 million people of which merely 1.4 % is rural while the remainder 98.6 % is urban ( India 2014 ) . The infrastructural development of the metropolis comes under the horizon of Srinagar Development Authority ( SDA ) which is under the province authorities. It is divided into North Srinagar and South Srinagar ( India, Srinagar District: Census 2011 Data 2014 ) . All the infrastructural undertakings runing from building of promenades, parking tonss to bus bases come under this authorization. These buildings have started merely late and before that there were no promenades and shopping arcades. The move towards constructing these promenades, parking tonss and bus stands represents the purpose to make more public infinite where people can interact with each other. The SDA has made efforts to acquire rid of the informal sector by acquiring rid of homesteaders near coach Michigans and pathwaies. Alternate agreements have been made by the authorization for these homesteaders ( Authority, Infrastructural Projects 2014 ) . It remains to be seen that whether the efforts by the governments are free from bureaucratic hurdlings and corruptness. It is comparatively easy for the functionaries to usurp land allocated for the hapless.

Today there is a spread in demand and supply of land and therefore land has become a valuable plus. The governments are doing attempts to guarantee that land is distributed equitably among the people for lodging intents. This will enable the people to hold their private infinite. Furthermore the land sold without authorities intervention does non hold basic comfortss such as sanitation, electricity, roads, H2O etc. So the life conditions in such colonies is extremely distressing and moreover the edifices constructed in such a manner are ‘sick’ edifices ( Keck 2010 ) .

Kashmiri Home as a Private Space

The people in Kashmir live in communities which are closely knit together. Normally they have their ain common topographic point of worship and this creates a closed infinite for the members of the community ( Network 2009 ) . Normally a house consists of more than one floor. There is a courtyard in the center of the house. On the land floor one has the life room to have invitees ( foreigners ) , the kitchen and guest sleeping rooms while on the first floor there are sleeping rooms for the members of the house. There is besides an Attic to hive away goods.

Gendered Spaces in the Society

There is gender based hierarchy in the Kashmiri society as the caput of the house is a male. The adult females normally do non travel outdoors unescorted. This does non intend that the adult females do non hold rights. The adult females are respected both inside ( place ) and outside ( society ) . The assimilative civilization of Kashmir has led to several alterations in Islamic Jurisprudence like acceptance is allowed in Kashmiri Muslim society while it is forbidden in Islam. Similarly the adult females have the right to inheritance in the household belongings after matrimony which is unheard of in the Muslim universe ( Punjabi 1990 ) . Thus it can be observed that adult females are treated with regard in the society and efforts have been made to guarantee that they have rights.

Kashmiri Pandits and Kashmiri Muslims: A Deliberately Drawn Boundary

After the coming of extremism in Kashmir in the 1990s there have been many alterations in the Kashmiri society. The changeless struggle between the security forces and the activists ensured that a distinguishable boundary was drawn where the activists were local Kashmiri young person. The people of Kashmir during that clip were frustrated with the high handed attitude of the brotherhood authorities. There were major protests all over the vale particularly in Srinagar. The local people sided with the activist as they were one of them and the security forces were treated as foreigners ( Behera 2006 ) . The people wanted to acquire rid of the Indian control over their lives and wanted freedom from Indian domination. The propaganda propounded by the extremists made the bulk Kashmiri Muslims believe that the minority Hindus who were the Kashmiri Pandits were with the Indian security forces. This led them to vent their anger on the hapless Hindus who were forced to go forth their ‘homeland’ and move to ‘outside areas’ in 1990. Most moved to Jammu and other parts of India in the hope that they would shortly return. But this hope of theirs has remained unrealized since.

The extremists managed to split the one time united people of the vale on the footing of their faith. An fanciful line was drawn between the two communities. Kashmiriyat which boasted of communal harmoniousness was covering a terrible blow. The places vacated by the Pandits were shortly taken over either by the bulk Muslims or the ground forces, both ‘outsiders’ irrupting the ‘personal space’ of the Pandits. Muslims of the vale believed that the Pandits had no right to populate in a topographic point which was theirs. They claimed the full vale for themselves ( Bose 2007 ) .

In order to counter the extremist forces the ground forces moved into the vale in big Numberss and managed to get the better of them owing to their advanced arms and sheer figure. Now to consolidate their difficult fought place in the vale ground forces camps and sand traps came up which seemed clearly out of topographic point in the picturesque background of the Himalayas. These army colonies came to be regarded as the entry of the ‘outsider’ into the ‘personal space’ of the people. They were viewed with disdain by the locals but the ‘outsider’ was here to remain ( Behera 2006 ) . Protests at Lal Chowk, the cardinal square in Srinagar were every bit common as were bomb blasts. Bing the cardinal most topographic point in Srinagar it was viewed as a topographic point from where domination and authorization could be subjected. Whosoever controlled Lal Chowk was perceived to command the province.

Influx of the Outsider into the Cultural Space of the Insider

Soon the military architecture replaced the traditional architecture. Many traditional edifices such as Pari Mahal were taken over partially by the ground forces. It used its halls as barracks and suites to hive away weaponries and ammos ( Peer 2006 ) . The shrine of Sufi saint Nooruddin Noorani, Charar-e-Sharif, besides became a portion of the military architecture when it was destroyed in a conflict between the security forces and the activists. The Restoration work of the authorities was shoddy at best and all the past 600 old ages of glorification of the shrine went up in fume ( Peer 2006 ) . There have been many incidences where the antediluvian and traditional architecture has been destroyed. This illustrates the impact of the ‘outsider’ on the civilization and traditions of the ‘insider’ .

Challenges for the Kashmiri Society

The challenges faced by the Kashmiri society today are the saving of its autochthonal civilization of ‘Kashmiriyat’ which is under menace from the right wing forces and the terrorists from Pakistan who have an wholly different political orientation from the 1s who were local young persons. This sudden inflow of outside civilization every bit good as people has alarmed the Kashmiri people and forced them to revenge in any manner possible. Srinagar has become a site for detecting the alterations and development in this procedure. Bing the province capital it is widely reported and covered. Though the state of affairs today has normalized to a great extent but the presence of the ground forces remains every bit now the locals have shunned their support for terrorists but cross boundary line infiltration continues. The harm done to communal harmoniousness and the spirit of assimilation demands to be rectified. The lines which were drawn between the Pandits and Muslims need to be erased. Attempts should be made so that they can do a successful return to their fatherland. This would enable the Restoration of Kashmiriyat to its pristine signifier which will bespeak the Restoration of the old order along with decreasing consequence of the foreigner. Though it seems easier said than done but a start has to be made.

Decision

Therefore we observe that Srinagar is a capital where there are different sorts of infinites. Ranging from public infinite and unfastened infinites such as the Bridgess and the tourers topographic points, to private and personal infinite such as the Kashmiri place. Along with it there is the cultural and traditional infinite which is Kashmiriyat, which propagates the disintegration of boundaries between faiths through communal harmoniousness and spiritual tolerance. But there are serious challenges every bit good with the inflow of the foreigner ( ground forces ) into the vale which the people treat as their personal infinite and depict themselves as different from other people of India due to this personal infinite. Srinagar has been a topographic point where cultural infinite has ever been its most august construct and the eroding of it has undermined the prestigiousness of the society as a whole. It is clip that sincere attempts are made to reconstruct the topographic point back to its glorification.

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