Sunday 1 December 2013

6--My Motor-Biking Expedition through Old Mughal Road - 6


26th of July 2012, our today’s route is around Boulevard road of Srinagar, because today we are sightseeing only few of the Mughal Gardens.

Today the first thing after bathing, we did perform Pooja at Zeshta Devi temple and prayed for our safe motor biking, further journey. Then after the breakfast at Dal Gate, Bhusahan Parimoo took us ( Kiran Kinni, Ganesh, Krishna Hebbar, Abhimanyu and me)  to “Tourist Reception Center" building, where the director of Tourism, (Kashmir Division) Mr. Talat Parvez Rohella's, office is. Since Bushan Parimoo knows Mr. Talat Parvez Rohella, it was just a curtsy call.  Though Mr. Talat Parvez Rohella, was already busy with other of his prior planned meetings, still it was great of him to spare few minutes just to meet us. Because of his aggressive dynamic efforts the Kashmir tourism had increased tremendously. He is very courteous and humble gentle man and he assured us of any help we needed and wished us enjoyable safe journey too.

From the “Tourist Reception Center building”, we rode our motor bikes all along the Boulevard road. It was more than a dream come true feelings of ridding our majestic "Royal Enfield" motor bikes, on a wide flawless road, which on one side has endless rows of the most colourful, beautiful most attractive and decorated House Boats and Shikaras, of the Dal Lake. On the other side are the ranges of Peer Panchal snow clad, “Zabarwan-mountains”. Then from the front  cold fresh winds full of nature’s fragrances, gently brushed against our faces with its soothing feelings. At our back side, we left behind us the most scenic beauty of beautiful Kashmir. However hard I may try, I have neither the appropriate words, nor the proper vocabulary to express those blissful and delightful ever lasting feelings. To thoroughly feel these blissful feelings, one has to be present there on the Boulevard, to feel what I am trying to convey you.

A Brief Introduction of Mughal Gardens of Kashmir

Impressed with the abundant natural beauty, Mughals loved this place so much that they have contributed many beautiful gardens to the city of Srinagar. Well-planned and vast, these gardens are home to a variety of flora and delightful water systems. They retain something of the elaborately planned Persian gardens and are mostly terraced to suit the environs of the mountainous slopes.
Gar Firdaus  rōy-e  zamin ast,
hamin ast--o hamin ast--o hamin ast.

This  is a couplet  by  the Persian   poet 
Amir  Khusrau”, which   is  inscribed   in Persian on the black pavilion  built  during  the  early  part of  Jahangir's  reign (1569–1627), in  the  top terrace of  the Shalimar Bagh. .

Translated  to English it  means.

‘If  there  is   paradise  on  earth,  it  is  here,  it  is here, it  is  here.”
It  is  also  mentioned  that  when  Jahangir  was  asked on  his  death bed  about  his cherished desire, he is credited to have said:
Kashmir,  the  rest  is  worthless.

“As per my eldest brother Mr. Moti Lal Parimoo, who now resides in Fremont, California, (USA), that definitely the famous poet “Amir Khusrau” had not visited Switzerland. If he had, he would have never ever said that Kashmir is the most beautiful place on this earth”

The basic architectural layouts of almost all the Mughal Gardens are the proportionate geometrical designs, those have terraced lawns, cascading fountains, bright flowerbeds with the panorama of the Dal-Lake in front of them.

The three famous Mughal Gardens of Srinagar, Kashmir are Chashma shahi ("The royal spring"), Nishat Bagh ("abode of peace") and Shalimar Bagh ("abode of love"), where Mughal emperors once relaxed with their exquisite queens. These are the Mughal Emperors' concept of paradise and are today very popular places of tourism, picnics and excursions.

Today since we were travelling from Dal Gate side, so as per our “Veteran Guide Cum Navigator” Bushan Parimoo’s suggestion, the very first place that we visited was Pari Mahal.

With high enthusiasm and soaring high spirits, to reach Pari Mahal from the “Tourist Reception Center building” we cruised and glided our motor bikes through Dal Gate,  Nehru Park,  Maharaja Hari Sigh’s palace, then took a right turn that goes steep up through Governor’s Residence, Chashma Shahi, “Rupa Bhawani”, Sahibi-Devi temple. And then rode till the end of the zig- zag road that passed steep up through the dense pine forest, where Pari Mahal is situated. The distance from Tourist center to Pari Mahal is approximately about 6 to 7 Km. 

Since during this month of July and August every year there are lakhs of pilgrims who tour Kashmir after coming back from Amarnath Yatara. So  during these month, in and around Srinagar anywhere we go, it’s full of tourists. There were so many tourist vehicles parked that to park our motor bikes we had to literally squeeze through the parking lot to make place for our bikes parking. To enter Pari Mahal, we had to pay for the entry tickets as well as for parking of our bikes.

I still have the everlasting childhood memories that when we were small children, to make us sleep, our grandparents would tell us fairy tale stories, at night how the fairies from the fairy land came gliding to Pari Mahal, dressed in the most attractive, colourful, soft silk robes. As per our grandparents stories, at Pari Mahal Fairies would singh, they would dance, they would laugh, they played and enjoyed the beauty of Dal Lake and its breath taking beautiful surroundings. I believe that those fairy Tales were told to our grandparents by their grandparents. So for local Kashmiri folk-lore’s, the Pari Mahal means nothing more than the abode of bed time fascinating fairy tale stories.  

And in case, even after listening the soothing stories of the fairy tales, if we wouldn't sleep then our grandparents would suddenly change their tones of vocal cords, and tell us horror stories how those fairies were attacked by demons, ghost and devils and scare us till we would shut our eyes tight and fall asleep immediately .

And the best part is that till today, I still remember those bed time fairy tales as well as the horror stories told my grandparents. And I still carry religiously that tradition of storytelling to make my daughters sleep (when they were young) and now to my granddaughters to make them sleep at night.

Earlier days when we were small children, to go to Pari Mahal we used to go walking through the thick forest from Zestha Devi temple. Those days it was surrounded by so thick forest that even during the day we would get scared of wild animal and those demons, ghost and the devils from our grandparents stories. Mind you these are some of the most nostalgic treasured memories of our life time.

Pari Mahal in “Hindi Language” means “The Fairies' Abode” It  is a seven terraced garden located at the top of Zurbaran mountain range over-looking city of Srinagar and south-west of Dal-Lake. The architecture depicts an example of Islamic architecture and patronage of art during the reign of the then Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. It is about ten-minute drive from Chashma Shahi, Srinagar.


The gardens were established by Prince Dara Shikoh in the mid-1600s on the ruins of a Buddhist monastery. Dara, the son of Emperor Shah Jahan, followed the Qadiri order of Suffi Islam and made the garden for his tutor; it was further used as an observatory, useful for teaching astrology and astronomy. This ancient monument retains a dream-like quality, illuminated at nights and placed on the very edge of a mountain casting its reflection in the waters of the Dal Lake with a well-laid spacious garden in front.

From the top terrace of Pari Mahal we have the most amazing view of whole surroundings of Shankara Acharya temple, Dal Lake, Nehru Park, Char Chinar Island, Chashma Shahi, Governor’s Residence, and the view of Hazratbal Mosque. And parts of old broken and partly submerged road that still has a visible remains of a broken and damaged small bridge made of bricks,  called in Kashmiri language as “Oount Kadal” that means “Camel Hump”. Once upon a time this small road was a cycling road that connected Nishat Bagh and Rainawari area.

While at Pari Mahal, since it was almost the evening time. The evening breeze was so soothing that we spent couple of hours, studding the Mughal Architecture and enjoying the surrounding scenic beauty. It felt so good that as if we were sailing on cloud-9

The second place that we visited was “Rupa Bhawani Temple

While driving down from Pari Mahal towards Shesma sahih, on the left side of the road, just a little before the Chashma Shahi, we entered the one of the most pious Kashmiri Hindu saint’s temple called as “Rupa Bhawani” temple. The entrance of the temple is nothing like any prominent temples, it’s just an ordinary two planked door, like any of the ordinary house. Any one may think that it’s an entrance to a house rather than to a temple. So to locate the temple, we have to be attentively searching for the temple location. Anyone can easily miss it, if not paid concentrated attention.

Other than the temple, there exists tow rooms structure with an outside toilet facility that is constructed away from the rooms. Other than the “Poojari” there are always two CRPF jawans at guard, for the security purposes.

Through the middle of the temple compound runs, sweet fresh water of the spring and the temple compound is surrounded by small sweet apricots wild trees. It’s a very nice place to sit peacefully and relax.

Rupa Bhawani
"Mother Sharika assumed human form for her devotees"

RUPA BHAWANI (Samvat 1681-1771), daughter of Pandit Madho Joo Dhar of Khanqahi Sokhta (Safa Kadal), Srinagar, shines as a bright star in the galaxy of mystic saints and sufis who have adorned the firmament of the Reshiwari (Kashmir). Rupa Bhawani's descendants, from her paternal side, called Sahibi Dhars, have carried her message and memory forward. They have been observing her nirvaan ceremony with great piety and devotion to this day both at Safa Kadal, the place where she was born and also attained nirvaan, and at Waskura in Baramulla district which the graced for many years after the initial tapasya at Khanqahi Sokhta, Wusan near Ganderbal, Manigam in the same area, and Chashma-i-Sahibi, adjacent to the renowned Chashma-i-Shahi on Zabarwan hills in Srinagar district.

The Legend

Legend, both oral and recorded, has it that Pandit Madho Joo Dhar, himself a devout Devi-Bhakta, performed Parikarma of Hari Parbat regularly for years, come summer come winter, praying to the Mother to fulfill his aspirations. The Mata, pleased with his devotion, appeared to him one day saying "speak out your wish". Madho Joo, prostrated himself at the Mata's feet, imploring," Great Mother, Creator of the entire Universe; you are so kind to me, I wish you are born as my daughter". The wish as granted, and Rupa Bhawani graced Madho Joo Dhar’s home on Zaishta Pooranmashi in Samvat 1681.
Brought up with affection, and respect, Rupa Bhawani was married to a learned young man, Pandit Hiranand Sapru, at an early age with great pomp and show. Roopa Bhawani was, however forced to forsake Grihast as her in-laws, including Pandit Hiranand, could not reconcile to her spiritual bent of mind and the meditative spells she had got used to at her father's abode.

The First Miracle

Her estrangement with the in-laws accentuated after a miracle which her mother-in-law failed to comprehend. It is recorded that at a special yagnya performed at the Sapru's place, the kulguru of Dhar's could somehow not give a satisfactory account of his capabilities. Not that he was not learned, but the other Brahmins present made fun of him. He could not put up with this. Feeling humiliated, he wanted to leave unnoticed without partaking of the prashad. And that is why and how the Mata's first miracle took place. While the kulguru was trying to get away, he was accosted by Rupa Bhawani. She requested him not to go away like that. "It is not appropriate to go away without taking food" she told him adding "you, Sir, seem to be very tired. Why don't you have a bath in the river (Vitasta) and feel fresh and then take food?" The kulguru could not refuse. He had the bath as advised, and while coming back he was accosted againg by Rupa Bhawani. She gave him a full glance, welcoming him to the dinner. This glance transformed the Brahmin into a well-versed and confident guru. Bowing to the Bhawani, he partook of the food, and after that recited a full poem in praise of the Mother spontaneously, winning applause from one and all, including those who had tried to humiliate him only a few hours earlier.
This miracle of the Bhawani invited strong reaction. Her mother-in-law got infuriated, she provoked her son and made it impossible for Rupa Bhawani to live in her house. And this brought about the Sanyas of the Mata. She returned to her father's place, bared her heart to him. Consoled and encouraged by the father Rupa Bhawani started her meditation in right earnest. However, finding regular meditation somewhat difficult in a grahast, she shifted to Wusan, Manigam, Waskura, Chashma- i-Sahibi, etc. in that order, creating ashrams at every spot holding spiritual discourse, attracting devotees, Hindus and Muslims alike, and performing miracles. A real sanyasin, she was the mother to all irrespective of caste or creed.

The great old chinar tree on the bank of Sindh river in Manigam, the culmination of a half-burnt branch planted by the Mata with her blessing hands was, till some year back, standing as a mute but living witness to her spirituality. A devastating fire in Manigam was extinguished by her through a mere glance. Fish cooked for Shivaratri in the house of Pandit Lal Chand in Manigam started crawling over to the wall when it was learnt that the fish had been cooked in spite of her presence in the house. A potter's son got his eyesight back on completing the digging of a well at Waskura at her bidding. A shankh-shaped spring in Chashma-i-Sahibi appeared in the Zabarwan hill area when Rupa Bhawani shifted there, giving the hillock its name.

Mata Rupa Bhawani attained mahanirvaan at her father's place, where she spent her last days. It was the Saptami of Magha Krishna Pakshya in Samvat 1777. The day is since known as Sahib Saptami, observed by all the Hindus in Kashmir.


On hearing that the Mata had breathed her last, Muslims of the locality demanded her burial according to Muslim rites as she was to them the Rupa Aarifa, a Muslim divine. They sought and obtained orders of the then Moghul Governor of Kashmir, and also any assistance to force the issue on the Mata's kith and kin and the large number of the Hindu devotees. Perturbed, her brother Pandit Sansar Chand Dhar prostrated himself at the feet of her mortal remains, requesting her to intervene "to save me from embarrassment which would forever stick to the clan as a black spot". Lo and Behold, the Bhawani resurrected herself, and addressed all those present, including Muslims. To her brother, she said "stand firm by what you want to do and God will help you. Offer some bread and shirni (sugar balls used in Kashmir on important occasions) to the Muslim brethren and bid them good-bye."

Sansar Chand and others did as they were told. Completing all the rituals, the body was taken to the cremation ground on the usual wooden plank bedecked to suit the occasion. But when the time came to place the body on the funeral pyre, it was only the shroud and a few flowers. Rupa Bhawani had merged with the Supreme,  Mother Sharika.

The third  place that we visited was  Cheshma sahai

To enter Chashma Shahi, every one has to buy entry tickets plus pay for parking of private vehicles.

Chashma Shahi in Urdu translation means “the royal spring”, is one of the Mughal gardens and was built around a digestive and fresh water spring by Ali -Mardan, a governor of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1632. The garden is located in the Zabarwan Range, near Rajbhawan (Governor‘s house) overlooking Dal Lake.


The Chashma Shahi originally derives its name from the spring which was discovered by the great female saint of Kashmir, “Rupa Bhawani”, who was from the Sahib clan of Kashmiri Pandits. The family name of Rupa Bhawani was 'Sahib' and the spring was originally called 'Chashme Sahibi'. Over the years the name got corrupted and today the place is known as Chashma Shahi (the Royal Spring).

The garden was constructed around the spring by the Mughal Governor Ali Mardan Khan in 1632. It was commissioned by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his eldest son, Dara Sikoh. In the east of Chashm-i-Shahi the Pari Mahal (Fairy Palace) lies where Dara Sikoh used to learn astrology and where he was later killed by his brother Aurengzeb. The garden is 108 m long and 38 m wide and is spread over one acre of land. It is the smallest garden among the three Mughal gardens of Srinagar; the Shalimar garden is the largest and the Nishat garden is the second largest. All the three gardens were built at the left bank of the Dal Lake , with Zabarwan mountains at the backdrop.

Architecture and spring

The garden presents Mughal architecture as used in different Mughal gardens. The artistically build garden has Iranian influence in its art and architecture and the design is based on the Persian gardens. It is built around a fresh water spring, discovered by Rupa Bhawani, which flows through its center in terraces. The topography and the steepness of the land has led the formation of the garden. The main focus of the garden is the spring which flows down in terraces and is divided into three sections: an aqueduct, waterfall, and fountains. A two-storied Kashmiri hut stands at the first terrace which is the origin of the spring. The water then flows down through a water ramp (chadar) into the second terrace. The second terrace serves as a water pool and a large fountain stands at its center. The water again flows down through a water ramp into the third terrace, which is a square five-fountain pool. It is the lowest pool at the entrance of the garden. The visitors are received through a flight of stairs on both sides of the terraces which leads up to the origin of the spring. The English writer and traveler Aldous Huxley wrote about the garden that "the little Chashma Shahi is architecturally the most charming of the gardens near Srinagar". The water of the spring is believed to have some medicinal properties. The former Premier of India, Jawahar Lal Nehru and later prime minister, his daughter Mrs. Indira Gandhi, used to get daily quota of the spring water flown to Delhi

Fourth place that we visited was Indragandhi Gardent of Tulips

The season stars from March end to middle of April. The full bloom of the colourful Tulip is short lived. But in July, by the time we went there, there were no Tulip blooms at all.

Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip garden previously named as Model Floriculture Centre, Sirajbagh, Cheshmashahi, is the largest Tulip garden of Asia spread over an area of about 12 hectares. It is situated on the foothills of Zabarwan Hills with an overview of picturesque world famous Dal Lake.

Nearly 20 lakh Tulips adorn and add color to 20 acres of the Kashmiri Landscape at 5600 feet altitude in Asia’s largest Tulip Garden - the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden. A delightful sight - the Flower bed sprawls all over the foothills of the towering Zabarwan Mountain Range, and overlooks the beautiful and the world famous Dal Lake in Srinagar. The Tulip Garden is surrounded on three sides by the Nishat Bagh, Dal  Lake and Cheshme shahi Mughal Gardens of Srinagar.

Chapter-5, Mughal Road link 
Chapter-7, Mughal Road link


  1. Hi Ashok, I am enjoying your blogs immensely.

  2. perfect narratic, pictures are a bit blurred, otherwise all in placed jaded as a crafts man in right place with utmost care to make something worth going through and enjoy till last

  3. Thank you Wayne and Bushan Parimoo for enjoying reading my travel blog.

  4. Dear Ashokji. We have a free trip to picturesque valley through your writeup. A splendid endeavor! Your interest, narration and involvement is legendary. Keep it up. Good wishes.

    1. Thank you Adiga Sir, I highly appreciate your comments.

  5. Great Combination of Nature,Mankind &Technology.

    Go on clicking such wonderful things with your golden fingers.

    Tribwan jalali

    1. Thank you Tribwan for your encouraging complements

  6. Man Mohan Munshi
    Dec 10

    Thank you very much nice pictures keep it up. BUT I AM WORRIED ABOUT THE ONLY MARKHOR SANCTUARY ON THIS SIDE OF THE LOC.