GILGIT - More than 30,000 ancient rock carvings in the province of Gilgit-Baltistan were falling prey to disfigurement due to lack of archaological expertise and focus by the authorities concerned.

According to an official report, the areas of the province having most important rock carvings are close to Chilas, Thalpan, Ges Bala and Ges Pain and Shing.

Access to these carvings and inscriptions was difficult while making the relocation of heavy stones and boulders for preservation was indeed a non-feasible idea.

Renowned Archeological Expert, Dr. Ijlal Hussain said that the most important rock carvings were located near to Chilas and the latest threat to over 30,000 rock carvings was due to the construction of Diamer Bhasha Dam.

The construction of the dam would submerge the carvings and inscriptions written in around 10 languages, he said.

Dr Ijlal who did PhD on `Cultural and Religious Significance of Silk Road', said the that the govt had conducted many surveys regarding threats to the rock carvings in GB and the possible measures to protect these sites.

However, no serious effort was done to save this precious heritage.

He recommended that the important and precious rock carvings must be shifted to Chilas for which resources and expertise were required.

He said replicas of these rock statutes should be made alongwith the documentation, following the relevant documentation done by a German Scholar, Herald Hopkin and the concept of contemporary digital documentation.

Dr. Ijlal said the GB province had the ancient remains of before 1000 BC and statues with mythological animal's carvings which reveal the religious beliefs of the caravans and the people who used to stay there and the government must give priority to the conservation of this heritage.

The official of the Department of Archeology and Museums (DOAM) were of the view that after devolution under 18th Amendment of the Constitution, it is the responsibility of the provincial department to start excavation work in the important sites for documentation and preservation.

However, the provincial authorities lack archaeological experts to preserve the priceless heritage for the tourists and education of the upcoming generations.

The sites, if excavated and preserved, can reveal many historical facts, antiquities and help educate the future generations about the country's heritage along with boosting tourist activities in the region, the officials said.  

Muhammad Hassan who has served as Assistant Director, DOAM, Gilgit Baltistan during the years 2001-2006 said the rock stupas usually sustain the climatic changes of intense nature, however, the sites where these rock statues exist are needed to be excavatedfor finding antiquities and then preserved.

Muhammad Hassan, who is now Curator at Harrapa Museum, Punjab, said that more than 30,000 similar rock carvings in GB which can become a great source of attraction for the tourists, if preserved and maintained.