Conservation of Shalamar Gardens, Lahore

Conservation of Shalamar Gardens, Lahore. Phase I
Final Donor Report
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Getty Foundation
The J.Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J.Paul Getty Trust and Getty programmes serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Centre in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

UNESCO Islamabad applied for the Getty Foundation Architectural Conservation and Planning Grant, to carry out baseline surveys and identify conservation needs at the Shalamar Gardens. Funds from Getty Foundation came around the same time as Emergency Assistance from WHC in early 2005. The dual source of funding provided considerable support to initiate a systematic process of conservation at the Shalamar Gardens, based on scientific studies and evidence.
Historical background
Shalamar Gardens, a marvel of Mughal garden architecture, is one of the greatest gardens in the world, representing of the Islamic concept of Paradise. The site was inscribed on the World Heritage List, along with Lahore Fort in 1981, for the following outstanding universal values or criteria. The two sites:
i) Represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;
ii) Exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design; and
iii) Bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared.

The three-terraced Shalamar Gardens built in 1642, is a grand manifestation of the ingenuity and craftsmanship of a group of architects, hydrologists, horticulturists, engineers and mastercraftsmen during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan. Cleverly sited on a naturally terraced terrain, the Gardens run approximately five kilometers north-east of the walled city of Lahore and are enclosed within a high perimeter wall.

The importance and significance of the Shalamar Gardens have been acknowledged by its inclusion, jointly with the Lahore Fort, on UNESCO World Heritage List. It was however, inscribed without a management plan. Today, negative impacts from environmental degradation, visitor usage, ill-advised interventions and the passage of time are increasing without appropriate response.

In 1999, the unique hydraulic system of the gardens was demolished in an attempt to widen the Grand Trunk road, where the Shalamar Gardens is now situated. Following this unfortunate incident the Shalamar Gardens, along with Lahore Fort were placed on the list of World Heritage in Danger.
The overall objective of the baseline study on Shalamar Gardens was to prepare a conservation plan for the Gardens in line with the findings and recommendations of the experts involved in the project.

The project team adopted a vision statement for Shalamar Gardens stating: "Shalamar Bagh (Garden) should be treated as a single design entity consisting of stepped garden terraces linked by water features and alignments, built elements and linkages. The conservation and safeguarding of the historic resource should be central to all discussion relating to the garden. The methodologies adopted should aim at presentation of the essence and reality of a Mughal garden and infusion of a new dynamism - developing a sense of historicity and continuity from the past to the future". The vision enabled the team to move way beyond the stated objective and develop a Master Plan to provide a holistic framework for the implementation of conservation and management actions for relevant stakeholders.
Cooperation from stakeholders
During the project period, a wide range of stakeholders were consulted through a series of meetings, on-site interviews and discussions and continuing communications. The consultations continued as the project progressed, in order to ensure that the needs and interests of all parties were adequately represented.

UNESCO Islamabad received unrestrained cooperation from the Federal and Provincial Ministries of Culture, Government of Pakistan, during the execution of the project. As the management of the Lahore World Heritage sites (both Shalamar Gardens and Lahore Fort) has been handed over to the Punjab Government since January 2005, UNESCO Islamabad has been working closely with the provincial Ministry of Culture and Department of Archaeology and Museum. In consultation with the Government of Punjab, UNESCO Islamabad has developed a conservation plan for the Shalamar Gardens. During an informal meeting with stakeholders, it was agreed that the Government of Punjab would undertake the conservation of some structures adhering to the recommendations given in the Master Plan. UNESCO Islamabad would apply to Getty Foundation for 'implementation grants' whereby, the Royal Bath (Shahi Hamam), the Eastern and the Western Gateways would be conserved.
General state of conservation and management
As described in the Report of the Joint ICOMOS-UNESCO Reactive Monitoring Mission to the Fort and the Shalamar Gardens World Heritage Site in Lahore, Pakistan (29 November - 03 December 2005):

The conservation and management of the Shalamar Garden has four key components - management of the gardens and hydraulic system, conservation and management of different structures within the Garden, conservation of the boundary walls and visitor management. In the absence of any management plan for the site, it was difficult to comprehend the current management process for the Shalamar Garden. From the discussions with the government officials responsible for taking care of the site, it was understood that the entire management system for the site works on an ad-hoc basis.

A general lack of care is evident in the condition of the garden and the hydraulic system. The pavilions and other structures are also not well maintained. The beautiful marble cascades are not regularly cleaned and now they have almost permanent stain marks on it. Because the stains had sufficient time to get hardened, the subsequent cleaning took more efforts. The mission team has learned that to remove the stains, the authority used sand during brushing. A close inspection revealed that this method is already damaging the delicate marble surface.

Like in Lahore Fort, neglect of buildings not belonging to Mughal period is also noticeable in Shalamar Garden. The so-called Moorcroft Building, situated right next to the summer hall, was constructed during the Sikh period. However, this structure is now near collapse due to lack of maintenance and care.
Property boundry and buffer zone
After the hydraulic works, the boundary wall is the least protected part of the garden. Again, an effect of long-term neglect is clearly evident on the appearance of the wall. There is also the problem of rising damp due to increased elevation of the areas around the garden. The frescos and beautiful coloured stonework on the outer surface of the wall has no protection. Most of the terracotta hydraulic system along the wall is destroyed and rubbish is being dumped on the side of the wall. The mission team also witnessed a boy climbing up the wall to get inside the garden. In Hadi Saliba's report, a detailed outline proposal complete with sketches was provided to solve the rising damp problem by creating a perimeter drain around the site. The report also identified the buildings to be removed to reduce the impact of encroachment on the eastern and northern side of the garden. The mission team was informed by the officials from the Punjab Directorate of Archaeology that they are currently working on the implementation of the proposals from the report. However, no specific timeframe was provided.

Other structures needing immediate attention
The Naqqar Khana
The Naqqar Khana pavilion, which faces the Khawab Gah (queen's pavilion) across the upper terrace (Farah Baksh), is thought to have been originally used for military displays involving music incorporating kettle drums. The enclosure behind it was originally a separate historic garden, which has been purchased by the Government of Pakistan, lies outside the World Heritage Site boundary and has a its own entrance opening onto the Grand Trunk Road. The gardens also contain an open pavilion with an arched-back roof (arz bogi) originally derived from the design of bamboo structures in Bengal.The Naqqar Khana enclosure is in a run-down condition and has no current beneficial use. The Naqqar Khana pavilion itself has been in a derelict and partly collapsed condition, now partly rectified. The pavilion with the arz bogi roof has serious cracks in the masonry which require stitching.

Hydraulics system located at the southern periphery
The hydraulics system consists of several chambers built in brick masonry, which carried the original water supply and filtration tanks. The building received excessive damage due to the widening of the Grand Trunk Road. The remaining structure has suffered further damage due to its exposed condition.

Northern perimeter wall (with fragments of original fresco)
The brick masonry perimeter walls with a length of over 5,700' and a height of 17', are at risk. The northern perimeter wall is particularly vulnerable due to pilferage, graffiti, vandalism and weathering.

Eastern and Western gateways
These brick masonry gateways with lofty iwan portals, rising to a height of 30'0" have been adversely damaged through lack of care, vagaries of weather and vandalism. The damage to brick masonry and tile mosaic has occurred due to its exposed condition and lack of maintenance. Funds are required for the restoration of brick work, repairs to the extant tile mosaic, sealing of water seepage from the roof and ground level.

Shahi Hammam (Royal Bath)
The Hammam is among the rare examples of its type and has been in a state of neglect for a long time. The brick masonry single storey structure covers an area over 3,500 sq. ft consists of single storey chambers. It is in a highly damaged state. Funds are needed to carry out major works consisting of consolidation, repair and conservation to brick masonry, remains of fresco painting, providing water tightness in joints, roof and at ground level etc.
Project implementation
During the planning phase, the Getty Grants enabled UNESCO and its implementing partners to undertake the following:
  • Topographical survey of the Shalamar Gardens
  • Graphic and photographic documentation
  • Studies in various disciplines to identify conservation needs and priorities
  • Master Plan developed for the conservation and preservation of the Shalamar Gardens
Master Plan 2006-2011, Shalamar Gardens
The project team adopted a theoretical approach while contributing to the design of the Shalamar Gardens Master Plan. The recommendations were based on the principle stated in the Burra Charter (Article 2.2) that the single most important aim of conservation is to retain the cultural significance or authenticity of a place, the "aesthetic, historic, scientific, social or spiritual value for past, present or future generations".

The Master Plan also takes into consideration the pivotal importance of research and detailed documentation to the conservation process: "Decisions regarding the type and extent of intervention carried out as part of a conservation plan should only be taken after extensive research, expert discussion and weighing of conservation options". (HAP, 4.1.6)

"No restoration work and, above all, no reconstruction work on an historic garden shall be undertaken without thorough prior research to ensure that such work is scientifically executed and which will involve everything from excavation to the assembling of records relating to the garden in question and to similar gardens". (Florence Charter, Article 15)

In accordance with the Burra Charter, Article 3.1, the project team adhered to the principle of sustainability, emphasizing that all programmes and action plans addressing the protection and maintenance of the Shalamar Gardens must be sustainable.

Following regular consultations and meetings, the team agreed on the following approach:
  • An assessment of which level/s of conservation are appropriate should be carried out before taking and decision
  • The assessment should be based on authentic information and full documentation.

This can be supported/assisted by following international standards and guidelines of conservation

All decisions should include reference to these standards and should be made after full discussion between the custodians of the site, UNESCO and the project Management Team

All decisions to be publicized for public comment

The Master Plan developed within the framework of the Getty-funded project, is based on available reports and documents, ICOMOS Management Guidelines for World Cultural Heritage Sites (1993), and international best practice, supported by detailed studies carried out by national experts on the following: Historical survey of interventions to the plan and design of the site and its landscape and built elements;

Hydraulic studies of the waterworks, both Mughal and later additions and modification, including collation and analysis of all available data from geophysical remote sensing excavation;

Architectural studies of built features: condition assessments, history of interventions and baseline survey documentation;

Inventory and mapping of all existing planting within the garden; noting the distinction between contemporary planting, British period and evidence of possible Mughal period remnant species;

Assessment of internal infrastructure conditions and issues, including access, waste removal, lighting, electricity, drainage etc. ; and recommendations for action;

Assessment of conditions in the surrounding environment or buffer zone of the site, including encroachments, vehicular traffic, drainage, waste collection etc. and recommendations for action;

Assessment of monitoring and management regimens at the site and recommendations for improved systems;

Assessment of current visitation patterns and statistics and recommendations for interpretation and presentation of the site to the public.

These reports are based on extensive research, fieldwork, interviews and professional experience. Each expert was commissioned to carry out the following tasks:
An assessment of existing conditions and situation analysis;

Recommendations for prioritized action to address the identified issues;

Integrated plans for implementation of the recommendations;

Identification of any additional specialist studies needed to enable implementation of the Master Plan.

The Master Plan consists of a series of integrated action plans developed from experts' input and designed to address various issues. These actions constitute the key processes of cultural resource management at the Shalamar Gardens, which aim to achieve the vision set out for the future of the World Heritage site in both short and longer term.


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