Lahore's Mughal-era Shahi Hammam wins UNESCO award

Lahore's Mughal-era Shahi Hammam wins UNESCO award

The 17th century Mughal-era Shahi Hammam in Lahore received the Award of Merit in this year’s UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation in Bangkok.

“Undertaken with a high degree of technical proficiency, the restoration of Shahi Hammam has safeguarded a unique example of the monumental 17th-century Mughal public bathhouse,” a statement on UNESCO’s website read.

The conservation project was recognised “for returning the ornate Shahi Hammam to its former prominence within the Walled City of Lahore while giving encouragement to future private conservation initiatives.” The display of excavated underground structures, partial reinstatement of bathhouse features, and an educational exhibition gives visitors a better understanding of the bathhouse’s historic function.

A total of 13 winning projects from six countries – Australia, China, India, Iran, Japan and Pakistan – have been recognized in this year’s Heritage Awards. The 2016 Award of Excellence was presented to Sanro-Den Hall, a prayer hall at Sukunahikona Shrine in Ozu City, Ehime Prefecture. “The project epitomises the efficacy of grass-roots advocacy, coupled with traditional building practices, in extending the life of distinctive 20th-century Kakezukuri structure, successfully returning it to a central place in the cultural life of the local community.”

Duong Bich Hanh, Chair of the Jury and Chief of UNESCO Bangkok’s Culture Unit, said she was pleased to see the Heritage Awards encourage good conservation practices in the region. “Jury members were delighted with the quality of this year’s entries to the Heritage Awards,” Hanh said. “This showed increased knowledge and higher standards in conservation work across Asia-Pacific.”

The Award of Distinction was presented to Taoping Qiang Village in China and St Olav’s Church in India. Two Indian heritage sites also received an Award of Merit alongside Pakistan: Cama Building in Mumbai and Walls & Bastions of Mahidpur Fort in Madhya Pradesh.