Cultural Heritage Inventory of Gilgit-Baltistan

  The cultural heritage of Gilgit-Baltistan can be categorized as an ‘important ecological heritage of traditional culture’ where the work of man and nature are contemporaneous. The importance of this heritage lies in the fact that man has designed and developed structures over the centuries in a manner that respects the ecosystem in which they live. They have harmonized architecture and nature to the extent that they appear synchronized, as if built at the same time. Furthermore, the qualities of the Gilgit-Baltistan mixed sites are embodied with a variety of ecological levels which include a wide range of diverse flora and fauna, and different life zones. This ecologically diverse palette is what the ancient residents of these mountain communities have learned to use and respect. However, these ongoing traditions are currently under threat, being impinged upon by present socio-economic pressures. Such traditions need to be at the least recorded before they undergo further transformation.
  Beginning in 1997 cultural heritage inventory was carried out in collaboration with Dawood College during which 23 cultural assets in Hunza and Nagar valley were documented which included 17 mosques, 1 reservoir, 2 historic house, 1 watch tower and 2 Jamat khanas.

Based on the first cycle a master plan for an inventory project, led by Ms. Yasmin Cheema, was prepared in 2000. The intention of this project was to document the cultural heritage of the Northern Areas and give it appropriate recognition. The work involved inventorying and cataloguing this heritage, setting criteria, determining priorities, and recommending measures for conservation and protection.

 The World Conservation Union, IUCN, graciously agreed to support the project in its second cycle, which was aimed at recording 34 sites under six classifications. Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities provided input on the archaeological sites.

 In the third cycle, from 2002 to 2005, the inventory of 13 settlements of the Karakoram region was documented. Of these, 6 settlements belong to the Burusho ethnic group of Hunza and Nagar, 2 settlements of the Shin area of Nagar, and 4 settlements of the Balti ethnic group of Skardu, Shigar and Khaplu. Beside the architecture of these settlements, socio economic details were also studied in detail. A general description of the surrounding cultural and natural landscape was also part of the inventory.

 In the fourth cycle in 2004 documentation of Haldeikish Hunza  Sacred Rock carving site dating back to 2nd century A.D was conducted with the collaboration of Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage (NDCH) , this project was the first archeological site documentation conducted by AKCS-P. 

In 2005 fifth cycle was initiated. This was an inventory of the landmark monuments of Gilgit- Baltistan formally Northern Areas. 196 monuments of four districts, which include Gilgit, Ghizer, Skardu and Khaplu, were documented. In 2016 continuation of fifth cycle was carried out in collaboration with the Tourism Department, GoGB. This was an inventory of the landmark monuments of District Diamer and Astore where 61 monuments of the two districts were documented. The inventory included architectural drawings, photographs and descriptive analysis of the monuments. Such an analysis contains information about the site name, location, age, ownership, legal status, significance, site description, salient features and state of conservation and site management. Inventory also extended to cover intangible aspects; these being folklore of Hunza and music of Hunza-Nagar and Baltistan.

 While a total of 984 individual sites have been inventoried including the 197 sites documented in the 5th cycle, of these 659 houses were documented in 3rd cycle historic settlement inventory. Apart from the four cycles, 265 sites documented in the 5th cycle are included in this database. The settlement of Hunza-Nagar and Baltistan are documented separately in five volumes and are available with AKCSP.

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