Sunday 8 December 2013

7--My Motor-Biking Expedition through Old Mughal Road - 7


27th of July 2012, our today’s route is only around Boulevard road of Srinagar, because today we are doing the sightseeing the remaining of the Mughal Gardens.

As per our “Veteran Guide Cum Navigator” Bushan Parimoo’s suggestion, today's agenda of sight seeing are the remaining Mughal Gardens of Harwan Garden---Shalimar Garden---Nihat Bagh---Gopi Teerath.


Harwan is about 19 kms from the Tourists Reception Center of Srinagar. Harwan is not a Mughal Garden, because it has historical proof that it was originally built during the Buddhist rulers. On the hillside, south of the village, remarkable remains of ancient ornamented tile pavements of the Buddhist period have come to light. The tiles depict the dresses of the people, such as loose trousers, Turkoman caps or close fitting turbans and large ear-rings which reveal Central Asian influence.

Moreover Praversena II founded the city of Srinagar and ruled in Kashmir from 79 AD to 139 AD. The king, on his visits to a local saint by the name Sukarma Swami at Harwan would come and camp at this Harwan Garden. As the time passed, this garden may have been developed in stages, but was not originally a Mughal Garden at all. Because unlike the typical Mughal gardens, it doesn't have the typical central water canal, artificial fountain, usual terraces and the famous pavilions called as Baradari, for kings and queens entertainments.

Harwan Garden is a beautiful and massive garden. A beautiful canal, fed from a lake just behind the garden, passes through its side. The canal is bordered with blossoming flowerbeds and plenty of chinar trees. The main attraction of the Harwan garden is its natural beauty that is present in plenty. The big lawns carpeted with green grass makes it an ideal spot for picnics and excursions lovers. Harwan also serves as a take-off point for visiting “DACHI GAM” Wild life sanctuary and a starting point of a “MAHADEV MOUNTAIN” trek.

Shalimar Bagh
(The "abode of love")

It’s also called as “Farah Baksh” ('THE DELIGHTFUL')

This is the largest Mughal garden, built by Emperor Jehangir for his wife Noor Jehan. Shalimar 15 kms from the Tourists Reception Centre is a beautiful garden with sweeping vistas over gardens and lakes, and shallow terraces. The garden is 539 m by 182 m and has four terraces, rising one above the other. A canal lined with polished stones and supplied with water from Harwan lake runs through the middle of the garden. The fourth terrace, by far the best, was once reserved exclusively for the royal ladies. The beautiful brick pavilions decorated with fancy roofs and smooth and shining black marble flooring, where the royals would sit and enjoy are called as “Bara-dari”

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. 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 meaning of the name remains unknown) 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 Noor 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 Noor Jahan were so enamored 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. Via Mughal Road they crossed the arduous snowy passes of the "Pir Panjal" mountain range on elephants and horses to reach Srinagar.

Layout :---
The layout of the garden is an adaptation of another Islamic garden  layout known as the Persian garden. 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 meters (1,926 ft) length on the main axis channel and with a total width of 251 meters (823 ft). The garden has three terraces fitted with fountains and with Chira  trees (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.

The  Architecture
The architectural details of the three terraces of the garden are elaborate.
The first terrace is a public garden or the outer garden ending in the Diwan-e-Aam (public audience hall). In this hall, a small black marble throne was installed over the waterfall.

The second terrace garden along the axial canal, slightly broader, has two shallow terraces. The Diwan-fa-Khas (the Hall of Private Audience), which was accessible only to the noblemen or guests of the court, now derelict, is in its centre. However, the carved stone bases and a fine platform surrounded by fountains are still seen. The royal bathrooms are located on the north-west boundary of this enclosure. The fountain pools of the Diwan-i Khas, the Diwan-i-Aam, and in turn, the Zenana terrace ae supplied in succession. it has 410 fountains

In the third terrace, the axial water channel flows through the Zenana garden, which is flanked by the Diwan-i-Khas and chinar trees. At the entrance to this terrace, there are two small pavilions or guard rooms (built in Kashmir style on stone plinth) that is the restricted and controlled entry zone of the royal harem. Shahajahan built a Baradari of black marble, called the Black Pavilion in the zenana garden. It is encircled by a fountain pool that receives its supply from a higher terrace. A double cascade falls against a low wall carved with small niches (chini khanas), behind the pavilion. Two smaller, secondary water canals lead from the Black Pavilion to a small baradari. Above the third level, two octagonal pavilions define the end wall of the garden. The baradari has a lovely backdrop of the snow mountains, which is considered a befitting setting for the Bagh.

The Shalimar Bagh is well known for chini khanas, or arched niches, behind garden waterfalls. They are a unique feature in the Bagh. These niches were lighted at night with oil lamps, which gave a fairy tale appearance to the water falls. However, now the niches hold pots of flower pots that reflect their colours behind the cascading water.
Another unusual architectural feature mentioned is about the doors of the Baradari. In the garden complex, the Baradari had four exquisite doors made of stones supported by pillars. It is conjectured that these stone doors were ruins from old temples that were demolished by Shahajahan. The garden also provided large water troughs where a variety of fountains were fixed.

It has been aptly described by a chronicler glowingly:
A subtle air of leisure and repose, a romantic indefinable spell, pervades the royal Shalimar: this leafy garden of dim vistas, shallow terraces, smooth sheets of falling water, and wide canals, with calm reflections broken only by the stepping stones across the streams.

Even in later years, during Maharaja’s rule, the gardens were well maintained and continue to be so even now as it is one of the prominent visitor attractions around the Dal Lake.

The garden is considered to be very beautiful during the autumn and spring seasons due to the colour change in leaves of the famed Chinar trees.

Nishat Bagh:
("abode of peace")

View of Sun set from Nishat Bagh towards Dal Lake
Nishat Bagh is the second largest Mughal Garden. It is situated on the banks of the Dal Lake, with the Zabarwan Mountains as its backdrop, (11 km. from Tourists Reception Centre), this 'garden of bliss' commands a magnificent view of the lake and the snow capped Pir Panjal mountain range which stands far away to the west of the valley. Nishat was designed in 1633 AD by Asaf Khan, brother of Nur Jehan.
Located on the bank of the Dal Lake, with the Zabarwan Mountains as its backdrop, Nishat Bagh is a garden of bliss that commands a magnificent view of the lake beneath the snow capped Pir Panjal mountain range that stands far away to the west of the valley. The Bagh was designed and built in 1633 by Asif Khan, elder brother of Noor Jahan.

An interesting anecdote of jealousy of the Emperor Shah Jahan on beholding such a delightful garden, which almost shutdown the garden for some time, is narrated. When Shah Jahan saw this garden, after its completion in 1633, he expressed great appreciation of its grandeur and beauty. He is believed to have articulated his appreciation three times to Asif Khan, his father-in- law, with the hope that he would gift it to him. As no such offer was made by Asif Khan, Shah Jahan was piqued and ordered closure of the water supply to the garden. Then, for some time, the garden was deserted. Asif Khan was desolate and heartbroken; he was uninterested in the sequence of events. When he was resting under the shade of a tree, in one of the terraces, his servant was bold enough to turn on the water supply source from the Shalimar Bagh. When Asif Khan heard the sound of water and the fountains in action he was startled and immediately order closure of water supply as he feared the worst reaction from the emperor for this wanton act of disobedience. Fortunately for the servant and Asif Khan, Shaha Jahan, who had heard about this incident at the garden, was not disturbed or annoyed by the disobedience of his orders. Instead, he appreciated the servant for loyal service to his master and then ordered full restoration rights for the supply of water to the garden to Asif Khan, his Prime Minister and father-in-law.

Even though the layout of Nishat Bagh was based on the basic conceptual model of the Persian gardens, it had to be remodelled to fit the topographic and water source conditions at the site chosen in the Kashmir valley. The plan, instead of being central with four radiating arms in a square pattern as in the case of Chahar (suited for a flat country side), was changed to an axial stream flow design to fit the hill condition with water source originating at the top of the hill end. This resulted in planning a rectangular layout rather than a square layout. This helped in dispensing with the long side arms. Thus, a rectangular layout with east-west length of 548 metres (1,798 ft) and width of338 metres (1,109 ft) was adopted.

The Architecture
Thus, Nishat Bagh as laid out now is a broad cascade of terraces lined with avenues of Chinar and cypress trees, which starts from the lakeshore and reaches up to an artificial façade at the hill end. Rising from the edge of the Dal Lake, it has twelve 12 terraces representing twelve Zodiacal signs. However, it has only two sections, namely the public garden and the private garden for the Zanana or harem vis-à-vis the four sections of the Shalimar Bagh; this difference is attributed to the fact that the latter Bagh catered to the Mughal Emperor, while Nishad Bagh belonged to a man of his court, a noble. There are, however, some similarities with the Shalimar Bagh, such as the polished stone channel and terraces. The source of water supply to the two gardens is the same. Built in an east-west direction, the top terrace has the Zenana garden while the lowest terrace is connected to the Dal Lake. In recent years, the lowest terrace has merged with the approach road. A spring called the Gopi Thirst provides clear water supply to the gardens. There are a few old Mughal period buildings in the vicinity of the Bagh.

The central canal, which runs through the garden from the top end, is 4 metres (13 ft) wide and has a water depth of 20 centimetres (7.9 in). Water flows down in a cascade from the top to the first terrace at the road level, which could be also approached from the Dal Lake through a Shikara ride. The water flow from one terrace to the next is over stepped stone ramps that provide the sparkle to the flow. At all the terraces fountains with pools are provided, along the water channel. At channel crossings, benches are provided for people to sit and enjoy the beauty of the garden and the cascading flows and fountain jets.

The Twelve Terraces
Founatains on terraces in Nishat Bagh

The details of the twelve terraces have been recorded as originally built:
The first terrace is a water collection chamber that is also linked to the side flow from the garden.

The second terrace is accessed through a gate. This terrace has five fountains that is supplied water from the third terrace, from where it flowed to the lowest terrace.

The third terrace has a different design. The water Chute has five arched open niches in the front and similar niches on the sides. A pavilion (baradari), a two-storied structure, which existed here when it was originally built, has since been dismantled. Stairways, on either side of the channel lead to the third terrace, which has a square chamber with five fountains. Moving up the flight of steps (four steps) on either side of the channel leads to the fourth terrace.

The fourth terrace has two levels namely, a water channel and a square pool. Stairways with 7 steps lead to the fifth terrace.

The fifth terrace, where a stone bench is provided across the channel to enjoy the scenic beauty. This also has a square chamber with five fountains.

The sixth terrace is at two levels with five fountains and distinctive paving pattern.t
The seventh terrace, where the same pattern continues.

The eighth terrace is only a water channel or chute.

The ninth terrace, at the end of two stairways, there is an octagonal bench. The pool in this terrace has nine fountains.

The stairways to the tenth terrace are along the side retaining walls where only the water chute with fountains is provided.

Engraved paths lead to an impressive eleventh terrace, which has twenty five fountains in a pool. Up from this dramatic terrace is the last one.

The Zenana chamber, the twelfth terrace, is covered in the front by 5.5 metres (18 ft) high wall with a façade of blind arches. Only one arch in this blind facade provides an opening to the twelfth terrace. Two small octagonal towers on either side of the retaining walls provide views of the lower level terraces. A two-storey pavilion here is surrounded by a lovely garden with lush plantings.

Out of all the terraces, the second terrace is considered the most impressive in view of the twenty three niches provided in the arched recess just behind the cascade. Originally lighted lamps used to be placed at these niches. The second terrace also has abundance of Persian lilacs and pansies coupled with sparkling cascading water over the chute, which provided a lovely sight. Another interesting feature in the Nishat Bagh is of the many marble thrones like setas placed at the head of the waterfall, across the channel

Gopi Teerath

 Gopitirath. ashram, once abode of a saint Sawmi Ram, known among the great saints of India Hailed from Maharashtra born in 1900 parents named himRamachandra, Ashram is Nestled at the mid of Zabaryan range, justup ahead , on the southern side wall of NishatBagh Sawmi stayed at Gopitirath in late twenties,. He arrived in Srinagar, Kashmir, in the summer months,  and take up his seat in the small temple of Shankaracharya And from there to Gopitirath Rama, which was   full of tigers in the hills in those days,It is said the boundry wall of the Ashram indicated that of old Mugal structure there by one can infer it must have been seers place It is also said that Swami Ram ji got cleaned the spring , and blood came out of it, that indicated spring must have been defiled and Swami ji got it purified On entering the main high gate matching with its high wall , at a distance of say 20 -25 Meters there was Pucca Stairs going down  numbering at least 10 at the end of which was a small spring. The devotees would take a bath and then pour water on the Shiva linga which was on the left side of the Spring, a little hidden from the outside.The Spring had cool fresh water.The accompanying land was in terrace form and on the last terrace was a Dharamshala consisting of 3 or 4 rooms, partly Kutcha and partly Pucca

 Swami ji  also became great friends with “Lakshamanjoo” of Isheber during his years in Kashmir; they spent much time in discussion.
From there Sawami ji  went to Doopvan in village,  Doobiwan, ahead of Magam, on Gulmarg -    Tangmarh road Ashram of his is still in good condition, it is also said he has visited and stayed at Gowdar, Godavari of kashmir in kulgam district where every twelve years mela used to be held by Kashmiri Pndita from the valley
After Rama spent many years in Kashmir, teaching Yoga to hundreds of people. He traveled to Ludhiana in the Punjab. For the last decade of his life, Rama lived at Ram Kunj, on the banks of the Ganges,at Haridwar ashram ? Rama died in 1972 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Ashok    Parimoo

Chapter-5, Mughal Road link

Chapter-6, Mughal Road link



  1. Zaberwan ridge bifurcates Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary on Southern, as such tigers must have been frequent ventures from there, though there is no history of now of tigers , in the area, but Sawmi ji sighting them cannot be dismissed lightly,Tigers have also noted by Bai M.M.Mushi sb in Dera Gali area , he too is author on the subject Dachigan got its name as ten villages were dislocated to create a Game Santurey famous for Hanguls, the area as per records is 141.5 Sq kms Needless to add Hangul once could be found from Machil-Gurez, Kangan Dachigam, Kishtwar into Himachael Pardesh

    Bai your patience hard work single minded track to complete the travelogue is bring out wonders,, in detail which otherwise we ignore or don't realize the worth , but seeing/viewing through you makes one realise what we missed or ignored

    1. Thank you Veerji for such a good informative write up.

  2. Good pictures Ashok. Did you hire a professional photographer. In fact the other chapters also have well taken pictures.

    1. Thank you Wayne
      Believe me Kashmir is a beautiful place. I wish some day you and your family must visit this place.
      Ashok Parimoo

  3. Respected Ashok Parimoo Sahab,
    Thank you very much for the painful efforts you have taken to showcase the places for which the valley is known globally. The excellent photographs of the Moghul gardens together with Harwan and Dachigam National park bring alive the grandeur of these Historical and Architectural places. The historical background of these places which you have given is awesome. I hope the environmentalists of the state and the country seriously go through your efforts and draw plans to protect such places from encroachments and keep them pollution free.
    I wish all this could be compiled in the book form because such a treasure of information should be preserved for the next generations.Please free if I can be of some little help in your efforts.
    Once again loads of thanks.
    V K WATTAL, Shalimar Garden, Ext. -II, Ghaziabad.

    1. Thank you VK WATTAL JI for your encouraging complements.
      Ashok Parimoo

  4. Great .....waiting for the next u...miss u....

  5. Very pains taking jib of Parimoo Sahib.God bless him with best of health,worly wisdom & nice doings.The community is certainly proud of his work as above.God bless the community.
    Er Rajinder Raina,
    North Carolina,USA.

    1. Thank you Er Rajinder Raina ji for blessing me
      Ashok Parimoo