Nida Nazir B.A.LLB
7th Semester Roll No: 17
Mohammad Yaqoob Vakil, 78, founder member and ex-general secretary of the Hurriyat Conference, is the oldest member living in the 7 storied Vakil Manzil.
Vakil Manzil, Zaina Kadal, was constructed 120 years ago in 1892 by the
grandfathers of Mohammad Yaqoob Vakil. Recently in 2012, Vakil Manzil
was declared as a heritage building by the high court. This has a reason behind
it. Firstly, it is 120 years old and secondly, Ali Mohammad Sagar, General
Secretary of National Conference, wanted to dismantle it and construct a
complex at its place. Mohammad Yaqoob Vakil did not let this happen. He
went to the high court and fought for his house and after his constant efforts,
Vakil Manzil was declared as a heritage building and nobody could do any
harm to it.
Vakil Manzil is a beautifully constructed 7 storied house (now only 5. 2 of its stories
were gutted in fire). It has 48 rooms, 2 extra sized halls and 22 TAAKS. Taak means window
and during the days it was constructed houses were measured by taaks.
The material used in this house is very rare and expensive.
The wood used is only Deodar. While designing the wood for the house, special attention has been given to the hallow structures in the logs. No knot (hollow structure) can be seen
anywhere. The wood was bought from thousands of Deodar trees of the Kupwara forests
and it is estimated that more than 9000 cubic feet of Deodar has been used in the construction of this house.
The bricks used in this house are again very rare and are not easily found anywhere, except
in the old secretariat. The size of these bricks is exceptional. 4 inches by 10 inches whereas, the size of the normal bricks is around 2.5 inches by 8 inches. The bricks used are so strong
that is guaranteed, if you throw a brick from the 4th story it won’t break.
The topmost 2 stories of this house, caught fire in 1997. They were the most beautiful and expensive stories of this 7 storied house. After the fire, the government estimated the loss
for each story to be 2.5 crores.
The height of each one of these stories is 11 feet. Up to 5 feet, the walls were made of walnut wood carvings and the other 6 feet were of superior paper machie. The ceiling was of khatamband,
made completely from deodar over which beautiful designs of superior paper machie was
done. The carpets were matching to the ceiling. The columns that were for support were entirely made of walnut wood carving in the shape of dragons. Each hall had a capacity to hold more than 1400 people. With each hall 4-5 rooms were attached to store things that were used in marriage ceremonies as the halls not only served
the people living in Vakil Manzil, they served as community halls for the whole of Zaina Kadal. All the marriages in Zaina Kadal took place in the halls of Vakil Manzil. Vakil Manzil was not only used socially, but politically also. In 1931, when Tehreek started in
Kashmir, Muslim Conference headed by Mirwaiz Molvi Yousuf Shah along with Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Chowdary Abbas and other leaders came into being. These leaders needed
a spacious place for their political activities. As Vakil Manzil was the biggest house in the locality, one of its stories was converted into Muslim Conference Headquarters for 5-6 years.
Vakil Manzil has seen almost 6 generations living within it, Mohammad Yaqoob Vakil wishes it to see more.