PESHAWAR: The Archaeology Department has opposed construction of a plaza near Shahi Masjid of Chitral.
In a letter sent to the deputy commissioner Chitral, Dr Abdul Samad, director of the KP directorate of archaeology and museums, stated: “It has come into the notice of the undersigned that a new plaza is in the process of construction near or within the Shahi Masjid of Chitral. Shahi Masjid is an important national heritage of Chitral and has a rich history of the area.
As per Section 55 of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Antiquities Act 2016, the construction of new building is prohibited within a distance of 200 feet of any protected heritage site.” The letter added: “It is, therefore, requested that the said construction may kindly be stopped” and following information may kindly be provided for the official notification for the protection of the said monument: Name of the monument, description, total area, owner’s name, whether in use for religious purpose, boundary, map of the site, and any other information.
It may be noted that the site where the plaza is being raised was the property of former Mehtar Shujaul Mulk where a garage and auto workshop was set up after the arrival of a motorcar in the then princely state of Chitral for the first time early in the 20th century. The land was last year sold out by the family of the former Mehtar to a businessman who is now constructing the plaza there.
The construction of the Shahi Masjid was started during the reign of Shujaul Mulk in 1919 and completed in 1924 on six kanal and two marla land. The mosque is constructed on the pattern of Mughal architecture and it is one of the most significant heritage sites of Chitral.
Experts believe that the construction of the plaza near the mosque will not only affect the beauty of the site but will also open the floodgates of more such constructions in the vicinity. The archaeology department has taken a timely step for the protection of the site.–Muhkam Uddin]]>