Shalimar Bagh in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir || A Mughal Garden of Ethereal Beauty and stories in every nook and corner


When we reached Srinagar at noon on a pleasant day in Mid April, we had hoped to drop our luggage in our guest house and then explore the city. But our cab driver had other ideas. He felt that if we went to our guest house we would end up losing a lot of daytime. Also, this was the month of Ramzan so everything would close down early in the evenings. It made sense, so we decided to go with his suggestion. We first went to Tulip Garden, then to Nishat Bagh, and then to Shalimar Bagh. 


Of all the gardens in Srinagar, I liked Shalimar Bagh the best. The other gardens are pretty too, but there's something about Shalimar Bagh that immediately struck a chord. It did not have as many tiers as Nishat Bagh, but it did have the most vibrant flowers. Not only were there flowers in the flowerbeds, even the lawns had tiny flowers scattered all over like #loveflakes. 



When we were there, the roses weren't. Buds were huge and the flowers inside were ready to burst out. We did not get to see that sight of the gardens lined with huge, brilliantly colored flowers, but other flowers tried their best to make up for this. The local gardener told us that the garden would be full of roses in another week. I guess we would have to go back to Srinagar sometime to just see that sight. 



Another unique feature of the garden (actually that of Srinagar) is the presence of huge Chinar trees all around. These beautiful trees tint the entire surroundings in an almost fluorescent emerald green. You can only believe it when you see it. 

 

The Shalimar Bagh has three terraces, and each of these terraces have unique architectural and design features. If you are able to pull your eyes away from the flowers for long enough, you might be able to notice these. But if you have time on your hands, this is the right garden to spend it in. It has a lot of beautifu secrets hidden in every nook and corner. 



Shalimar Bagh is the largest Mughal garden in Kashmir. An ancient garden built more than 2000 years ago existed on this site. As per some sources, this ancient garden was built by the King Pravasena II when he founded the city of Pravasenpur, which later came to be known as Srinagar. Mughal Emperor Jahangir later expanded and and beautified this garden for his Begum Noor Jahan in the year 1619. He named the garden "Farah Baksh", which means "The Delightful". 



In 1630, Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan ordered Zafar Khan, the then governor of Kashmir, to extend this garden further and named it "Faiz Baksh", which means "the bountiful". During the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the garden served as a guest house for European visitors. And during Maharaja Hari Singh's rule, the premises were electrified.

 

So we can see that the garden has been under continuous development over centuries. And it is this constant upkeep that still reflects in the current state of the garden. 



Each of three tiers (terraces) of the garden boast of unique architectural pieces that were built to serve specific and specialized functions when the garden was developed. The functions might have changed over the centuries, but even after centuries have passed, one can still see the art and craftsmanship. 


The garden is built based on the traditional style of Persian Gardens that are built on flat ground with square plan. These types of gardens usually have four radial arms originating from a central source of water. However, since Shalimar Bagh was being built on hilly terrain, several modifications had to be made to the original plan. The first one is that the design of Shalimar Bagh is rectangular rather than square and the second one is that it has one single water channel running through the center. This channel is known as Shah Nahar. 


Like many other Mughal Structures, this garden also has a Diwan-e-aam and a Diwan-e-Khaas. The Diwan-e-aam is located in the first terrace, the lowermost one, which is also at the entrance to the garden. In this, a small black marble throne was installed over the waterfall. The second terrace garden has the Diwan-e-khas, which is now in shambles, at the center. The third terrace has the zenana quarters. It is also in this terrace that there are lawns with while tiny white flowers and dandelions that look absolutely ethereal. 


If you have a few days to spend in Srinagar, we would recommend spending good time in this garden. Just sit around and enjoy the sights. Click many pictures, smell the roses, wish on a dandelions. Because we guarantee you that if you do not do this, you will come back and realize that you should have spent a lot more time in this garden. 


 

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