A century-old building, Bait ul Meras, in old Srinagar city’s Aali Kadal area has been converted into an art centre and museum. This initiative has been taken by the HELP Foundation so that the coming generation in Jammu & Kashmir is well aware of our past heritage, says coordinator Bait ul Meeras, Hakeem Javeed. According to history, the heritage building was the property of Kaul dynasty who were influential and reputed Kashmiri Pandits. A known money-lender of those times, Ram Joo Kaul and his brothers lived in this mansion, along with their families. The building was constructed during the era of Dogra King Maharaja Pratap Singh between the years 1885 to 1925. The residential place was also a hub of religious, political and social gatherings of the Pandit community. A Kashmiri historian Mufti Mohammed Shah Saadat has authored a historical chronicle titled “Waaqaah-I-Kashmir” (Events of Kashmir) in which he has mentioned about this building.
This heritage building now an art museum has put on display everything from traditional dresses to crafts, jewellery, utensils of the past Kashmiri culture. The intent is to showcase the richness of Kashmiri culture to the current generation and to educate them. The work and craftsmanship done on these utensils, jewellery and traditional wear prove the richness of our past culture.
The HELP Foundation that established the art gallery has chosen the name Bait ul Meras which translates to ‘the heritage home’. We do programmes here to tell youngsters about the history of carpets and Pashmina shawls and how it is hand woven, said the coordinator. He added that this four-storey historic home is the ideal example of the Valley’s peculiar architectural design. There are hundreds of items on display that date back more than a century. For the museum exhibition, these artefacts including ancient jewellery, silverware, traditional clothing and crafts were assembled over the course of approximately a year.
– News Desk, Kashmir Ahead