mughal gardens of kashmir


International Seminar: 14th – 16th May 2011 – University of Kashmir, Srinagar, Kashmir Source: This handout is based on the text for the ‘Tentative List Submission - Serial Nomination of the Mughal Gardens in Kashmir’ (INTACH J&K, 2011). The serial nomination includes the following properties: 1. Nishat Bagh (Site visit on 15 May) 2. Shalimar Bagh (Site visit on 14 May) 3. Achabal Bagh (Not included in visits) 4. Chashma Shahi (Site visit on 15 May) 5. Pari Mahal (Site visit on 15 May) 6. Verinag (Not included in visits)



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Mughal Gardens of Kashmir: Towards the UNESCO World Heritage Nomination – Site Visits Handout

1. Nishat Bagh
Laid out in the 17th C. (1634 AD) by Mirza Abul Hasan, the Nishat Bagh is amongst the most prominent gardens that the Mughals developed in Hindustan. The bagh or garden is located directly along the eastern bank of the Dal Lake on the foot of Zabarwan mountain range. The garden stretches out over a rectangular area of approximately 116.70 acres, and measures about 556.50 x 350.00 m, which equals 6 quarters (3 x 2) of the traditional chahar bagh concept. Nishat Bagh’s exceptional quality lies therefore in its setting, the complex terraced layout, the play of water cascades, the views it offers, and its ecology. Length-wise, the garden consists of twelve terraces, supposedly symbolizing the twelve signs of the zodiac, though Mughal sources only ten terraces. The width of the garden consists of seven linear sections, which make up three main sections; a central wing with the main water features and two lower laying side wings. The terraces in the garden rise not only from the Dal Lake up the mountain side, along the length of the garden, but also along its width from the side wings to the central channel axis. The sophisticated geometrical manner by which the chahar bagh concept and terraces have been adapted to the contours of the mountainside contribute towards making Nishat Bagh one of the finest representations of traditional chahar bagh garden layouts spread across the Islamic world. Of key significance is the location of the garden along the bank of Dal Lake, with the lowest terrace directly connecting to the lake and with key historic views from the terraces and pavilions to the lake. The Oont Kadal, a historic bridge located in the lake, forms an integral part of the composition, as key views from the garden align with it and continue across it to the Hari Parbat Fort, which rises above Srinagar across the lake. The views towards the vast Dal Lake from each of its ascending terraces are wide and uninterrupted, presenting the full expanse of the wide Dal Lake and its western shores. The historic approach to Nishat Bagh, coming from Dal Lake and passing under the Oont Kadal on a boat, similarly offers remarkable views and reveals the full scope of the rising terraces and the wider historic agricultural landscape and mountain backdrop. The central axis with the water features contains the main ornamental water features and pavilions. The side wings and terraces were predominantly terraced orchard plantations with irrigation channels, terraced walks and shading avenues. The uppermost terrace was the zenana or the private section of the garden. Nishat Bagh was a more private garden than its near neighbour, the Shalimar Bagh, which was also used for holding Royal Durbars. It therefore did not require having as many associated buildings as Shalimar Bagh. Yet the magnificence of the garden is so powerful that it often enjoys more praises than the Shalimar Bagh. Key historic architectural structures include the water channel, the water cascades and pools, the fountains, the terrace walls, the boundary walls, stone abutments at the bank of the lake, pavilions, and the watch towers (burjis) at the corners of the zenana retaining wall.


3 . 2010).Mughal Gardens of Kashmir: Towards the UNESCO World Heritage Nomination – Site Visits Handout Sketch plan of Nishat Bagh and the wider setting in 2010. illustrating its location along Dal Lake and the Oont Kadal and causeway across the lake (Haenraets.

4 . 2010).Mughal Gardens of Kashmir: Towards the UNESCO World Heritage Nomination – Site Visits Handout Colour sketch Master Plan illustrating the layout of Nishat Bagh (Haenraets.

2010) . 2010).Mughal Gardens of Kashmir: Towards the UNESCO World Heritage Nomination – Site Visits Handout The chahar bagh concept in Nishat Bagh. Sketch plan illustrating the main terraces in Nishat Bagh (Haenraets. 5 . The bagh equals a 2 x 3 dimension that reflect six quarters of a chahar bagh (Haenraets.

2010). The central water channel and cascades at Nishat Bagh (Haenraets. 6 . The Octagonal Throne on the Eleventh Terrace at Nishat Bagh (Haenraets.Mughal Gardens of Kashmir: Towards the UNESCO World Heritage Nomination – Site Visits Handout Photograph from the Ninth Terrace across the main channel and to the lost baradari on the Third Terrace. Vie w across the water tank on the Eleventh terrace to Dal Lake at Nishat Bagh (Haenraets. pavilions and steps (Nathan Hughes. 1951). 2010). 1972: 116). The restored baradari and water channel in the zenana at Nishat Bagh (Haenraets. 2010). 2010). and Dal Lake in the background (Jellicoe. Historic photograph illustrating the lost baradari.

The arched retaining wall to the Third Terrace at Nishat Bagh (Haenraets. 7 . The Oont Kadal in Dal Lake with in the background NishatBagh (Haenraets. The Octagonal Watchto wer and retaining terrace on the Eleventh Terrace at Nishat Bagh (Haenraets.Mughal Gardens of Kashmir: Towards the UNESCO World Heritage Nomination – Site Visits Handout Vie w from the Third Terrace to Dal Lake at NishatBagh (Haenraets. 2010). Detail of the waterfall from the retaining wall to the ThirdTerrace at Nishat Bagh (Haenraets. 2010). 2010). w hich functioned as raised khayabans (Haenraets. The terraced side wings at Nishat Bagh. 2010). 2010). 2010).

In the 16th C. Shalimar Bagh is more ostentatious in architectural quality when compared with its other parallels in Kashmir. is said to have created the canal and a bund (embankment) to Shalimar. This area was also called the zenana and. compared to the rest of India. flowers. at each of its four corners and also in the middle. After his accession to the throne Shah Jahan added the Fayz Bakhsh. The work was carried out around 1630 by Zafar Khan. It is a rectangular open pavilion constructed in traditional badshahi bricks.Mughal Gardens of Kashmir: Towards the UNESCO World Heritage Nomination – Site Visits Handout 2. is located on the fourth terrace in the zenana. brackets and railings made of stone. these structures offer a rare opportunity to witness Mughal architecture in this region. this garden was also developed along the lines of traditional chahar bagh concept. The outstanding quality of 8 . while the villa and garden vanished. the garden is lush with. Considering that there was not much building activity by the Mughals in Kashmir. The scale and decorations of the buildings. in fact. The present size of the garden measures approximately 594 x 250 m and represent five main terraces that make up two and a half chahar baghs. seem to have been intentionally underplayed by the Mughals to avoid offering competition with the overarching natural beauty that surrounds the garden. Outstanding workmanship is displayed in the carvings of the stone columns and brackets around the Pavilion. the ‘Bounty-Bestowing’ garden or the zenana to the earlier Farah Bakhsh at Shalimar Bagh. The lower portion. the Mughal governor of Kashmir and included the building of the black marble pavilion in the zenana. The upper two terraces were exclusively for the Emperor and his courtiers and hence rightly called the Diwan-i-Khas. Black Pavilion. The Farah Bakhsh. The construction was overseen by Prince Khurram. is a result of the relationship of the garden’s built and landscaped environment. rectangular in plan. and the Black Pavilion. or water cascades. Zain-ul-Abidin. The enclosed garden has six watch towers. with recessed niches and naqashi (paintings) on walls. the carved columns. when the garden was a sacred site. the walls of the Pavilion have stone facing. The two most important structures within the Shalimar Bagh are the Pink Pavilion. The small village at the site retained the name Shalimar. Despite the fact that the original Mughal planting scheme has worn-out over the years. is related to the stone used for the walls and columns. The whole of the royal garden was divided into two major parts as per the requirement of the royalty. An early Muslim King. however. The whole texture of the garden. well-mowed turf and some fruit trees. was a private zone for the Empress and her ladies. in the Diwan-i-Aam zone of the garden. Shalimar Bagh Early origins of the Shalimar Bagh garden and cultural landscape go as far back as the 6th C. comprising the first three terraces was the Diwan-i-Aam where the emperor used to hold public audience. The significant architectural details of the Pavilion comprise the papier mache ceilings. the later Shah Jahan. which appears very black when polished. Almost all the terrace edges at the Shalimar Bagh have something interesting to offer in the form of pavilions. Constructed principally in brick masonry. pools. The Black Pavilion (also an open Pavilion). located in the Diwan-i-Khas. Like the Nishat Bagh. the ‘Joy-Imparting’ garden or lower garden of Shalimar Bagh was created by Emperor Jahangir around 1620. as the name suggests. These two parts were screened by means of a thick masonry wall having two similar gateways at each side of the water channel. As it is believed that at Shalimar a villa was built by Pravarassena II in the late 6th Century. The name. The Pink Pavilion is located over the water channel of the second terrace.

and travel hundreds of miles to find respite in the greens of the garden. Sketch illustrating the Landscape Master Plan for the wider Shalimar Bagh Cultural Landscape (Haenraets. from the scorching heat of the Indian plains. The wider setting of the rural agricultural landscape.Mughal Gardens of Kashmir: Towards the UNESCO World Heritage Nomination – Site Visits Handout Shalimar Bagh lies in the synthesis of its landscape and architectural features. every summer. and the mountain backdrop. Apart from this. the Shalimar Bagh should be valued for the fact that it is amongst the very few surviving authentic Mughal gardens that were developed for pleasure. the historic canal that links the garden to Dal Lake. enjoyment and also for holding Court. the rice fields and hamlets. The Shalimar Bagh therefore is testimony to the lavish Mughal lifestyle which made the Court escape. 2010). 2010). Kashmir. while most other significant Mughal Gardens of India are commonly an associated feature of a mausoleum or a monument. with a double chahar bagh (Haenraets. 9 . The chahar bagh concept in Shalimar Bagh. all contribute to the significance of Shalimar Bagh.

10 .Mughal Gardens of Kashmir: Towards the UNESCO World Heritage Nomination – Site Visits Handout Sketch illustrating the Landscape Master Plan for the garden at Shalimar Bagh (Haenraets. 2010).

N. Water colour by Constance Villiers-Stuart of the Hall of Public Audience (Villiers-Stuart.) 11 . taken from the Black Pavilion (Bourne. 1860). Photograph by Samuel Bourne from 1860s of the main channel at Shalimar Bagh in the Zenana.Mughal Gardens of Kashmir: Towards the UNESCO World Heritage Nomination – Site Visits Handout Historic photograph by Samuel Bourne in 1860s of the tree-lined canal outside the garden of Shalimar Bagh (Bourne. 1913). (N. 1860) The two lost baradaris in the centre of the Emperor’s Garden at the water tank with the stone throne.

12 .Mughal Gardens of Kashmir: Towards the UNESCO World Heritage Nomination – Site Visits Handout The channel at the First Terrace with the Pink Pavilion (Haenraets. The hauz with the stone throne in the Second Terrace (Haenraets. A vie w from the branch channel to the Black Pavilion (Haenraets. The channel on the Third Terrace leading to the Two Gateway Pavilions to the Fourth Terrace and Zenana (Haenraets. A vie w from the Black Pavilion down the main w ater channel (Haenraets. 2010). The Hamman during restoration (Haenraets. 2010). 2010). 2010). 2010). 2010).

2010). The canal and rice fields in the wider landscape of Shalimar Bagh (Haenraets. as part of a former quarted planting on the intersections of the sunken quarters (Haenraets. The burji can be partly seen in the background (Haenraets. The boundary wall and a burji from beyond the garden (Haenraets. The Fourth Terrace with a remaining mature Cypress tree. 2010). 2010). 13 .Mughal Gardens of Kashmir: Towards the UNESCO World Heritage Nomination – Site Visits Handout One of the sub-quarters on the Third Terrace. 2010).

Jehanova Begum. based on the theme of the chahar bagh. The Achabal Bagh is remote and is still largely unaffected by urban development or civil infringement and therefore there are good opportunities for defining buffer areas around it for its long-term protection and sustenance. It combines the appeal of a stately stone bordered pleasance lying in between ordered avenues of full grown trees with the natural rock and woodland background. It is developed on the base of a forested mountain. which Kashmiri historians associate with Emperor Jahangir. The Achabal Bagh. The mountain (Acchabal Thung) looms impressively over the garden and creates a splendid background for it.Mughal Gardens of Kashmir: Towards the UNESCO World Heritage Nomination – Site Visits Handout 3. when an orchard garden existed at the site. Furthermore. locally known as Acchabal Thung. The Achabal Bagh may seem similar to other Mughal Gardens of Kashmir in terms of layout but it is strikingly distinctive in its visual quality and experience. 14 . The spring which is presently protected under a modern shelter feeds the entire garden for its irrigation as well as aesthetic needs. The present garden was laid by Empress Nur Jahan in 1620 and was named after her as Begumabad. the garden continues to rely on its original source of water supply which for some other Mughal Gardens of Kashmir and elsewhere has either eroded or disappeared over the course of time. but most probably was adapted at a much later date in memory of Jahangir’s granddaughter. The spring at the Achabal Bagh was popular at one time for its curative values and the amount of water it supplied. The central feature of the garden is the spring. Achabal Bagh The royal garden of Achabal is located near Anantnag predates the arrival of the Mughals in Kashmir. It was renowned even during the time of the Sultans of Kashmir in the 15th C. juyee) with platforms (nashiman) and pavilions (baradari) built over the water channel. yet it is unique for its remote location and natural setting. A hammam was constructed within the garden by Jehanra Begum. the eldest daughter of Emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th C. The scale of the garden is also modest when compared with its other parallels in Kashmir. The pre-existing garden was greatly enhanced and rearranged by Empress Noor Jehan and consisted of four gently ascending terrace levels. The garden is trapezoidal in shape with an area of around 9. branch canals (jadwal. The ancient Hindu text of Nilmat Purana mentions the existence of a spring by the name of Achapal Nag at the site. is yet another embodiment of the Mughal landscape genius demonstrated in Kashmir. The garden was also known as Sahebabad during the Mughal period. whose water is collected in a canal (nahr).7 acres and follows the traditional char bagh concept. with its abundant Chinar trees and roaring water channels. The remains of an earlier baradari or pavilion can still be seen on the site of the spring.

1913). 15 .Mughal Gardens of Kashmir: Towards the UNESCO World Heritage Nomination – Site Visits Handout Ground plan from 1913 of Achabal Bagh (Villiers-Stuart.

. undergoing restoration works (INTACH J&K.Mughal Gardens of Kashmir: Towards the UNESCO World Heritage Nomination – Site Visits Handout Historic photograph of Achabal Bagh in the 18th C. 2010). The central water channel at Achabal Bagh (Haenraets. 2010). The water channel at Achabal Bagh (Haenraets. The restored baradari at Achabal Bagh (Haenraets. 2005). 2010). 2010). 2010). 16 . The cascades to the top terrace at Achabal Bagh (Haenraets. One of the side channels and two mature chinar trees at Achabal Bagh (Haenraets.

Mughal Gardens of Kashmir: Towards the UNESCO World Heritage Nomination – Site Visits Handout 4. The defining feature of this garden is its very high terraces and strong Mughal character of its gateway. 17 . The water from the spring.73 acres with a width of 70. 2009). and distant. Ground plan of the existing garden layout and terraces at Chasma Shahi (INTACH J&K. Chashma Shahi continues to retain the natural spring around which it was built and is unique for its high terraces. approximately. Chashma Shahi The garden was developed on the orders of Emperor Shah Jahan in 1632 by Ali Mardan Khan around an abundant spring emerging from the slopes of the Zabarwan Mountains. yet outstanding. views of the Dal Lake from its terraces. The spring is sheltered under a pavilion which is of a later Kashmiri period. The garden is known to be at its best during late afternoons and evenings. This garden stands out from the rest of the gardens for its narrow rills and singular fountains within its pools – adopting the typology of early Mughal gardens of India. the garden is arranged on three ascending terraces. located at the uppermost edge of the garden. The total area within the rectangular garden perimeter is approximately 1. The waters of the spring are renowned for their cool and rejuvenating qualities.81 m.83 m and length of 122. Oriented on the north-south axis. is led through narrow water channels that drop sharply in the form of cascades to successive lower terrace levels. cascades and retaining walls.

2010). The side terraces at Chasma Shahi (Haenraets. 2010). Side terraces at Chasma Shahi (Haenraets. 18 .Mughal Gardens of Kashmir: Towards the UNESCO World Heritage Nomination – Site Visits Handout The channel to the pavilion with the spring at Chasma Shahi (Haenraets. 2010). A chadder (cascade) and large water tak. 2010). The first terrace and water tank at Chasma Shahi (Haenraets. The baradari with the famous spring at Chasma Shahi (Haenraets. 2010). 2010). against the mountain setting of Chasma Shahi (Haenraets.

Pari Mahal has a domed ceiling with gardens laid out on six terraces around. on the slopes of the Zebanwan mountains. but unlike most Mughal Gardens in Kashmir. Pari Mahal Pari Mahal is also located west of the city centre of Srinagar. A pavilion or baradari can be found on the fourth terrace and another one connects the fifth and sixth terrace. 19 . 2010). built the gardens around 1650.Mughal Gardens of Kashmir: Towards the UNESCO World Heritage Nomination – Site Visits Handout 5. 2005). which are believed to have contained a hamman. It is believed that Pari Mahal was constructed for astronomical observations and teachings or astrological calculations under the Mughals. The view to Dal Lake and the mountain setting at Pari Mahal (Haenraets. the garden contains no water channels and cascades (chadars) that feed the water tanks. Prince Dara Shukoh. It was built at the site of the ruins of a Buddhist Monastery and as a residential School of Sufiism at the instance of his revered spiritual tutor Mullah Shah Badakhshi. a son of Jahangir. the eldest son of Shah Jahan. The garden is entered from the fourth terrace where there are a series of entrance buildings. Arched retaining walls support the terraces. Dara Shukoh named it after his wife Nadira Begum. near Chasma Shahi. which vary in width. The garden is 122 m by 62. There are water tanks on the terraces. Instead water is supplied through a system of underground pipes. The arched terraces at Pari Mahal and one of the water tanks (INTACH J&K. supposed to be known as Pari Begum. The gardens are said to have been watered by a nearby spring. the daughter of Prince Parviz.5 m at its widest. The terraces can be accessed via sets of steps on their corners.

The outstanding quality of Verinag is the blend of the surrounding landscape with the formal geometry of the garden. Historic photograph of Verinag Spring. The spring is believed to be at its deepest around 15. during Emperor Shah Jahan’s reign and was renamed Shahabad. Along the central channel the contours of sunken quarters can be seen (VilliersStuart. Verinag was the personal favourite of Emperor Jahangir and it was his great wish to be buried here. which is claimed to have never been consumed owing to certain religious sentiments. Watercolour of Verinag Spring (INTACH J&K 2005). The formality created by the octagonal perimeter around the spring and the linear water channel suddenly disappears when the water merges with the natural course of the Jhelum River.Mughal Gardens of Kashmir: Towards the UNESCO World Heritage Nomination – Site Visits Handout 6. the blue-green waters of the spring are replete with fish. The garden was constructed by Malik Haider. built around a spring which is the acknowledged source of Jehlum River and also its principal feeder.24 m and has abundant trout fish. royal bathrooms. In plan. were also constructed in the garden. A number of baradaris. 1913). as many Kashmiri Mughal gardens. Verinag Verinag is an octagonal pavilion-garden. The garden was enlarged further between 1626 and 1627. the garden is a large octagonal tank connected to a very long and straight water channel (12’ wide and 1000’ long) going towards the north that reaches a point where it discharges to feed the Jehlum River. A Persian quatrain indicates the date of construction of the garden as 1619-20. The abrupt rise of the densely forested hills creates a distinctive background to the arcaded pavilion around the spring. an able Kashmiri engineer of the Mughal Court at the behest of Emperor Jahangir. The garden. 20 . which have been lost over time. The spring is enclosed within a perfectly geometric octagonal arcade with a fairly wide stone walkway that surrounds the spring. was repaired extensively during Dogra period in 1870s. This attitude has helped in maintaining the spring as a rich fish-reserve. While the forests are rich in deodars (Cedrus deodara).

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