- Archaeologist suggests role of Heritage resources in creating opportunities for socio-economic
Archaeologist Suggests Role Of Heritage Resources In Creating Opportunities For Socio-economic
Appreciating the upcoming benefits of CPEC project for socio-economic progress in Pakistan Archaeologist of Azad Jammu Kashmir Prof. Dr. Rukhsana Khan has said "at this juncture of regional connectivity initiatives, Archaeological/Heritage, resources could play significant role in creating opportunities for socio-economic uplift.
Azad Jammu and Kashmir possesses tremendous cultural resources which offer both tangible and intangible means to achieve a sustainable peace and development''.
Prof. Dr. Rukhsana Khan, Assistant Professor University of Azad Jammu Kashmir, expressed these views in her detailed research paper, while addressing the 1st 3-day Kashmir Conference on Archaeology, hosted by AJK Department of Tourism, Archaeology and Information.
AJK President Sardar Masood Khan inaugurated the conference which was also addressed among others by AJK minister for Tourism & Culture Ch. Muhammad Saeed, Secretary Tourism and Archaeology, Information and IT of AJK govt. Ms. Midhat Shehzad Director General Tourism & Archaeology Pirzada Ershad Ahmed, Kashmir-origin Lord Mayor of British Scotland city Ch. Altaf Hussain, K D Khan, seasoned archaeological expert and Advocate General of AJK, ex DG Tourism and Archaeology Dept. of AJK and historian of Jammu Kashmir state Dr. Mohsin Shakeel, Mian Atiq Ahmed, Secretary General Museum Association of Pakistan, Muhammad Alam Head of Tourism and Hospitality and Dr. Muhammad Zahid from Hazara University, Aftab ur Rehman Rana, President Sustainable Tourism Development Foundation of Pakistan, Dr. Asma Ibrahim Director State Bank Museum Karachi, Dr. Kanwal Khalid from Punjab University , Ambassador (Retd) Arif Kamal and others who also moved recommendations for the promotion of archaeological and religious tourism for visit and pilgrimage of the archaeological and religious sites located in various parts of AJK.
Dr. Rukhsana Khan, who holds distinction of doing extensive research on Archaelogy heritage of AJK, underlined, in her detailed research paper at the conference, the Archaeological discoveries in AJK, particularly in Neelum valley and its utilization for peace and development as an emerging opportunity in the context of regional connectivity. "As my Phd. thesis also emphasis, that utilization of these resources as a tool for socio-economic development through heritage tourism across divides in Kashmir".
Dr. Rukhsana Khan stated, in her detailed address through the comprehensive and integrated research paper at the conference "the cultural heritage and archaeological discoveries from AJK indicate the earlier settlements in the area, beginning from around the 4th Millennium BCE, to the 18th CE. Several sites in Muzaffarabad, Neelum Valley, Mirpur and Kotli exposed earlier human evidences.
The inscribed details on Chaterpari Mirpur include Central Asian horses with riders, dancing demons and zoo-morphic signs. The cup marks, boulders along rock cut basin show that site remained as a centre of rituals in remote past.
The antiquity of the area has been verified through discoveries of megalith grave along cup marked boulders and standing burials, belongs to 4th millennium BCE.
Kashmir was once known as Sharda Peeth or Sarada Pith, a great centre of learning and Kashmir as Sharda Desh. On the confluences of River Neelum and Madhumati Stream, the ruins of this ancient archaeological site is scattered over a miles long stretch which remained center of attraction for scholars of various beliefs, Pilgrims and monks. Buddhism was largely replaced by Hinduism during 4th -5th century CE and subsequently, Buddhist shrines converted in to Hindu Temples. We have parallel archaeological sites of stone architecture; Deera Temple Rawalakot, Mandhol Temple Poonch, Bhurand Temple complex, Kotli; which also confirm the affinity of southern and northern parts of AJK.Sharda script evolved in Kashmir and widely used in south Asia, discovery of the rock inscription in the higher mountains of Neelum valley confirms the existence of a developed ancient script, linking this area with rest of the region. The inscriptions also reinforce the cultural connections amongst civilizations in Trans-Himalayan region.
This indication synthesizes and places the Neelum valley in regionalization era since, area remained one of the important crossroads of South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asian countries through connecting routes of Silk road.
Mughal ruled Kashmir for over hundred years and introduced the unique Mughal Architectural styles in Kashmir. The Mughal Architecture is reflected in forts, Gardens, private buildings, Sarai's (resting places) and stepped wells (Bawolie) in Mirpur and Kotli district. Beside this we have Gurdwara, Hindu, and Sikh, Dogra forts remains which can be seen district Kotli, Mirpur, Poonch, Bagh, Muzaffarabad, Poonch and other places along Jhelum & Poonch Rivers.
While underlining archaeological resources as an emerging opportunity, Rukhsan khan said that Kashmir remained center of attraction for pilgrims and monks who entered through number of routes and connecting passes of great Silk Road and left their marks in the form of rock inscriptions and other culture material. She further express that In the wake of cultural activisms; and peace initiatives by Pakistan such as Kartarpur Corridor Opening, AJ&K has the opportunity to exploit its heritage resources to second the Pakistan's overall objective of sustainable peace and socio-economic uplift.
The exist rich Civilizational linkages between Neelum Valley, Muzaffarabad and Kashmir Valley, on the one hand and Central Asia on the other which have the potential to attract tourists from both sides.
The interpretation of these discoveries by this speaker as an emerging opportunity necessitate the need to manage, preserve, and utilize these resources for socio economic development in the context of revival of Silk Road and regional connectivity", the seasoned archaeologist concluded.