Jalali House tucked in a hushed neighbourhood of old city’s Zadibal is a signpost of Kashmir’s architectural marvel. Not only it draws horde of people every summer, the house has also become one stop destination for the heritage tourists in Srinagar. A trainee visual reporter from Srinagar Danish Gul captures the magnificent architecture of the heritage house
The ancient architect marvel popularly known as Jalali House on the bank’s of Anchar Lake, Zadibal Srinagar, here is synonym to film industry since it featured in Bollywood blockbuster movie 7 Khoon Maaf.
With movie Fitoor all set to be released on February 12 staring Adatiya Roy Kapoor and Katrina Kaif in leading character people across the Valley believe some shots of movie were filmed inside its premises. Similarly gossips on streets were common during the release of Haider and Rockstar.
This lone surviving rectangular structure, that once had four wings with a courtyard in the middle, greets visitors with stunning Maharaji brick and lattice works with two hexagonal balconies— Dab—on the corner of each top.
Constructed by Agah Syed Safdar Jalali in 1863 using arch— Taq—structural engineering, heritage house is among the few ancient buildings of 19th century that exhibits the unique tradition, life along with art and architecture of Kashmir.
In late 80’s director Muzafar Ali took the first initiative to shoot his “much ambitious project” Zooni based on Habba Khatoon, the nightingale of Kashmir but cancelled his plan following the instability in the region.
The house is divided in two parts; western side consists of big halls— Deewan Khana’s— parallel to each other, then used to thrown parties and eastern side with private rooms meant to host the guests.
Dewaan-Aam in the ground floor, divided into lateral galleries, was meant for social gatherings on every occasion in good olden days. Men of the family would sit along political figures on the upper portion and rest would sit in the general space between galleries.
The Deewaan-Khas on second floor slightly larger than the one below remains the centre of attraction for the visitors and film makers mostly.
The walls of the hall and the rooms, whose entrance paves through lateral galleries, are decorated with colorful handmade flowers using vegetable dyes– Naqashi–where multicolor window panes changes the ambience according to the different lighting conditions of the day.
Only wooden roof and pillars are polished so that it doesn’t catch worms. Rest is untouched be it the design or the color of the walls. The way this house was architected is to keep harsh weather of Kashmir in mind in absence of latest heating/AC technologies.
It’s designed so that it gets max sun in winter and minimum in summer.
Walls are over three feet in thickness and they mostly used wood and clay to keep rooms warm in winter n cool in summer. They also used wood instead of DPC these days to prevent water seepage.
Jalali house is famous in its locality. The family is also doing charity in terms of providing free education to lower and poor of the society by running their own school on the end left border of the house.
History of this house is although old but the impact from the golden architectural hands of Kashmiri people describes patience, handwork, and talent of our history.
The house has underwent a “single change” since it was constructed as bathroom has been constructed by dividing one of the rooms. During those times the custom of interior bathrooms inside the premises didn’t exist among Kashmiris.
The house also holds a political background in Jammu and Kashmir history as it has hosted former Chief Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, several British Generals and Viceroys along with the founder of Pakistan, Ali Mohammad Jinnah before the Partition.
Their visits are photographed in a glass frame placed inside a lobby.
Moreover it has featured on the cover page Don’t Tear It Down, a book based on resistant vernacular architecture of Kashmir, complied by Randolph Langenbach.
This house and several other houses need renovation, because history always makes a present and future proud.