(Press Release) Minister for Culture Jamal Shah lays foundation stone of Shah Alla Ditta Caves preservation & development project

Jamal Shah, Interim Federal Minister for National Heritage and Culture on Monday laid the foundation stone of Shah Alla Ditta Caves development, conservation, preservation and restoration.

Federal Secretary National Heritage and Culture Division Humaira Ahmed, Director General Department of Archaeology & Museums (DOAM) Dr Abdul Azeem and other senior officials were also present on the occasion. Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said that Department of Archaeology & Museums (DOAM) Islamabad has declared the site as “Protected Antiquity” under Antiquities Act 1975 on 13-08-2016.He said that DOAM, National Heritage & Culture Division, has started conservation, preservation, restoration & development of the caves during the current financial year.

He said that the work includes Archaeological excavation, complete documentation of the site, geotechnical study of binding materials, construction of drainage works as well as Soft & Hard landscaping.

Shah Allah Ditta caves are situated on southern side of the Margalla hills in a small picturesque valley, 14 kilometers north-west of the capital city of Islamabad. Caves consist of two natural rock shelters of Kanjur stone situated on either side of a natural spring of hot water. Front side of the eastern cave is covered with a wall of undressed Kanjur stone laid in mud mortar. Facade of the cave is covered with mud plaster having many coatings red color. On the smooth surface of the wall some paintings are executed in black color but in the later period the paintings covered with a layer of white wash. The paintings are of Hindu origin, probably of god Vishnu (the savior).   Interior of the cave is divided in upper and lower halves. Walls are treated with mud plaster having many coatings of white wash but now color of the walls   become   blackish due to smoke   of the fire used by the dwellers. In front of the cave are remains of a paved channel and a square water tank constructed   in lime stone blocks laid in lime mortar.

There were many Hindus families living in Shah Allah Ditta village before partition and the caves were used by them for their daily worship and remained in occupation till 1947.

It may be mentioned here that Jamal Shah, Interim Federal Minister for National Heritage and Culture recently inaugurated preservation and development of Mai Qamro Mosque and Muqarab Khan Tomb located at a small village ‘Bagh Jogian’ in the vicinity of Islamabad.

The minister has ordered Department of Archaeology and Museum to expedite pace of work to restore the Mosque and Muqarab Khan Tomb in its original form besides enhance its outlook.