Mughal-era bridge on Dal Lake to live on

Srinagar’s Oont Kadal, seen in Hindi films of yesteryear, to be restored
The iconic 17th-century bridge, Oont Kadal, shaped like the hump of a camel and located in the middle of the picturesque Dal Lake in Srinagar, will be restored through a conservation project with the help of Germany. Going under the bridge — which features in old film hits such as Arzoo , Jab Jab Phool Khilay , Kashmir Ki Kali and Phir Wahi Dil Laya Hoon — on a shikara treats one to the expanse of the Zabarwan Hills, amid which nestle the famous Mughal-era gardens like the Nishat and Shalimar.
“Historical images from the 1890s to 1960s show the structure as part of a causeway with a series of poplar trees lining its edges. This unique frame created a picturesque setting for many international photographers of the time. Later, it became a fascination for Bollywood,” said Saleem Beg, head of the Jammu and Kashmir chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
Stone masonry suffers
The passage of time saw severe deterioration in its rare stone masonry. Mr. Beg said that in a few years, the structure would have succumbed to the external agents of erosion. Now, on October 1, the German Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Dr. Jasper Wieck and its Cultural Officer Thomas Schmidt will finalise a conservation contract with the INTACH to restore and conserve the bridge. “Oont Kadal forms an important part of the public realm that constitutes the combined environ of the Dal Lake, the Zabarwan Mountain range and the potential World Heritage Site of Nishat Bagh,” said Mr. Beg. The bridge, dating back to the 1670s, is on a north-south axis, with the grand archway facing the Nishat Bagh, one of the six heritage gardens.
“The restoration of Oont Kadal will bring back the focus on the global, cultural and natural heritage of the Dal Lake,” said Mr. Beg.
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