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Restoring lost glory: Oldest Srinagar church gets a facelift

The renovation works started by the government has renewed their hopes that the oldest church will again be thrown open for the devotees to offer prayers.

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Srinagar: The oldest church of Srinagar St. Lukes church is all set to regain its lost glory ahead of Christmas celebrations this year.

The ceiling of the church has been redesigned with the famous Kashmiri “Khatamband” pieces.

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Masons, carpenters, artisan and labourers were found busy trying to restore the stone and brick masonry structure that had been to decay for decades.

The renovation work of the century-old church situated at Dalgate was taken up under the Jammu and Kashmir government-sponsored “Preservation and Maintenance of Architecture and Heritage” scheme.

He said masons have been busy filling the gaps that occurred in between the bricks of the structure with the similar material used during its construction to restore it to its original shape.

A mason involved in the restoration process told UNI the flooring will be renovated using the famous “Devar” stones of Kashmir.

The government has formulated an action plan under “Scheme for Revival, Restoration, Preservation and Maintenance of Architecture and Heritage” to restore the lost glory of religious places, old heritage buildings and monuments in the Union Territory.

Until the 1990s, the gates of the church would remain open and dozens of members from the Christian community would hold regular prayers and the annual Christmas mass would draw a huge gathering.

But with the passage of time and prevailing situation, the stone and brick masonry structure fell silent due to closure and absence of worshipers.

The foundation stone erected by Dr Earnest and Dr Arthur Neve, “To The Glory of God” and “As A Witness To Kashmir” was dedicated by “The Bishop of Lahore” on September 12, 1896.

The closure of the church due to the eruption of militancy prompted members of the Protestant community to hold prayers in the highly-secured Church Lane at Sonwar in Srinagar.

The renovation works started by the government has renewed their hopes that the oldest church will again be thrown open for the devotees to offer prayers.

The locals in the neighbourhood recall daily prayers that were held at the church before its closure.

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