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ISLAMABAD, Sept 10: The Khaplu Palace in Baltistan has been given the ‘Award of Distinction’ under the 2013 Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation announced by Unesco.

Once a seat of government and one of Baltistan’s finest royal residences the palace has been brought back from a state of dilapidation.

The work undertaken by a team of experts addressed a range of challenges from structural concerns to historic landscaping in a manner that has retained authenticity of the palace.

The palace has been reintegrated as a vital part of the community through its new function as a small-scale heritage hotel and Baltistani Folk Museum. The upgrade of the adjacent village’s infrastructure and the creation of new livelihood opportunities have ensured improved well-being for local inhabitants in the remote rural area.

The project is testimony to the success of the well-tested approach to mobilising culture for sustainable developed pioneered by the Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan.

This year three awards of distinction have been secured by Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. From Afghanistan ‘Great Serai’ in Kabul and from India ‘Lal Chimney Compound’ in Mumbai won the awards.

According to Unesco, a panel of international conservation experts reviewed 47 entries received from 16 countries across the Asia-Pacific region. Out of these, 11 projects qualified for the awards.

According to the criteria, eligible projects must be more than 50 years old and the restoration must have been completed within past 10 years.