Islamabad: Syed Jamal Shah, the caretaker minister for national heritage and culture, commenced the construction of the Shah Allah Ditta caverns by laying the foundation stone for their restoration, conservation, and development.
In attendance were also senior officials such as the Director General of the Department of Archaeology and Museums (DOAM), Dr Abdul Azeem, Secretary of the National Heritage and Culture Division, Humaira Ahmed, and others.
The Minister stated that the site had been designated a protected antiquity by DOAM under the Antiquities Act of 1975 in August 2016.
He stated that DOAM, the National Heritage and Culture Division, had initiated the cavern restoration, development, conservation, and preservation for the current fiscal year.
According to him, archaeological excavation, comprehensive documentation of the site, geotechnical analysis of binding materials, drainage construction, and soft and hard landscaping were all components of the project.
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The Shah Allah Ditta caves are located in a small picturesque valley on the southern slope of the Margalla Hills, fourteen kilometers northwest of Islamabad. The caverns comprise two Kanjur stone natural rock shelters on opposite sides of a hot water spring.
Mud mortar erects a wall of undressed Kanjur stone along the eastern cave’s front. The cave’s exterior is clad in mud plaster applied in numerous crimson coats.
Initially, certain paintings are rendered in black on the flat surface of the wall; however, during a subsequent era, these artworks are enveloped in a layer of whitewash.
The paintings likely depict the Hindu deity Vishnu. The cave’s interior is partitioned into lower and upper halves. The walls were previously clad in mud plaster with numerous coats of whitewash; however, the smoke from the fire used by the inhabitants has caused the walls to acquire a blackish hue.
The cave entrance is flanked by the ruins of a square water reservoir of limestone blocks bonded with lime mortar.
Numerous Hindu households resided in the village of Shah Allah Ditta before the partition; they utilized the caverns as a place of daily worship until 1947 when they were retaken.
Recently, the caretaker minister commenced the preservation and development of the Muqarab Khan mausoleum and Mai Qamro Mosque, both situated in the vicinity of Islamabad in the small village of Bagh Jogian.
In addition to improving their appearance, the Minister has directed DOAM to accelerate the restoration of the mosque and Muqarab Khan mausoleum to their original condition.
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