Shalimar Garden

Shalimar Bagh (Urdu: شالیمار باغ‎) is a Mughal garden in India, linked through a channel to the northeast of Dal Lake, on its right bank located near Srinagar city in Jammu and Kashmir. Its other names are Shalamar Garden, Shalamar Bagh, Farah Baksh and Faiz Baksh, and the other famous shore line garden in the vicinity is Nishat Bagh. The Bagh was built by Mughal Emperor Jahangir for his wife Nur Jahan, in 1619. The Bagh is considered the high point of Mughal horticulture. It is now a public park

History

While the recent history and development of the Mughal types of gardens is credited to Emperor Jahangir, the ancient history of the garden can be traced to the 2nd century when it was built during the reign of Pravarsena II. Praversena II founded the city of Srinagar and ruled in Kashmir from 79 AD to 139 AD. He had built a cottage for his stay at the northeastern corner of the Dal Lake and had named it Shalimar . The word "Shalimar " in Sanskrit means abode of love.The king, on his visits to a local saint by the name Sukarma Swami at Harwan, used to stop at this cottage. Over the years, the cottage fell into ruins and later could not be located. However, the name of the village remained as Shalimar.

It is here that Emperor Jahangir built his celebrated Shalimar Bagh, his dream project to please his queen. He enlarged the ancient garden in 1619 into a royal garden and called it 'Farah Baksh' ('the delightful'). He built it for his wife Nur Jahan ('light of the world'). In 1630, under Emperor Shah Jahan’s orders, Zafar Khan the governor of Kashmir got it extended. He named it ‘Faiz Baksh’ ('the bountiful'). It then became a pleasure place for the Pathan and Sikh governors who followed Zafar Khan.

During the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh the marble pavilion was the guest house for European visitors. Electrification of the premises was done during Maharaja Hari Singh’s rule. Thus, over the years, the garden was extended and improved by many rulers and called by different names, but the most popular name ‘Shalimar Bagh’ continues to this day.

During the Mughal period in particular, Emperor Jahangir and his wife Nur Jahan were so enamoured of Kashmir that during summer they moved to Srinagar with their full court entourage from Delhi at least 13 times. Shalimar Bagh was their imperial summer residence and the Royal Court. They crossed the arduous snowy passes of the Pir Panjal mountain range on elephants to reach Srinagar.

Layout

The layout of the garden is an adaptation of another Islamic garden layout known as the Persian gardens. This garden built on a flat land on a square plan with four radiating arms from a central location as the water source. It needed to be modified to suit the hilly terrain and availability of a well, which could be diverted from a higher elevation to the planned gardens. Modifications involved the main channel running through the garden axially from top to the lowest point. This central channel, known as the Shah Nahar, is the main axis of the garden. It runs through three terraces. This layout left out the radial arms and the shape became rectangular, instead of a square plan of the Chahar Bagh.

The garden, as finally laid out, covers an area of 12.4 hectares (31 acres) built with a size of 587 metres (1,926 ft) length on the main axis channel and with a total width of 251 metres (823 ft). The garden has three terraces fitted with fountains and with chinar (sycamore) tree-lined vistas. The Shahnahar is the main feeder channel to all the terraces. Each one of the three terraces has a specific role

The garden was linked to the open Dal Lake water through a canal of about 1 mile (1.6 km) length and 12 yards (11 m) in width that ran through swampy quagmire. Willow groves and rice terraces fringed the lake edge. Broad green paths bordered the lake with rows of chinar trees. The garden was laid in trellised walkways lined by avenues of aspen trees planted at 2 feet (0.61 m) interval

Houseboat