What is Srinagar without its majestic Mughal Gardens of Shalimar Bagh, Nishat Bagh and
Chashm-e-Shahi! If Dal Lake is the lifeline of Srinagar, these Mughal gardens of Srinagar epitomise the grandeur of the city.
The great Moghuls have left for us a legacy of these gardens. Srinagar being their summer capital, they built these wonderful gardens modelled on the great gardens of Persia.
After finishing lunch and resting for a while, we were at the mercy of Muzaffar. He is fond of Srinagar. Rightfully so and wanted us to see all that was on the offer in the city. This afternoon we were to be treated like royals in the Mughal gardens!
It continued to rain though not heavily. Keeping umbrellas handy, our first stop was at Chashm – e -Shahi garden.
The setting of this garden is fantastic. With a lovely backdrop of mountains, this is possibly the smallest of the three we were to see today. The natural spring in the garden gives the garden its name.
The stepped garden is modelled possibly on the lines of the Hanging Gardens of Babylonia, the design is typically Persian with a focus clearly on the natural spring. The water from the spring flows down in terraces and creates waterfalls, aqueducts and fountains. The red brick structures provide a lovely contrast.
The garden is tended immaculately. Thanks to the rain, there weren’t many tourists which was good for us.
The royal pavilion in Chasm – e – shahi garden with a backdrop of Himalayas
Well-maintained garden. Notice the waterfall.
Nishat Bagh, close to Dal Lake was our next stop.
This is a large garden and typically Mughal in design. The large area provides for a well-planned terraced garden. The garden 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.
There are 12 terraces. Nishat Bagh unlike Chashme Shahi is well spread out with an aqueduct in the middle. The aqueduct is built as per the topography which creates small waterfalls at many places.
Rows of flowers flank on either side of the canal. The highlight of Nishat is the spectacular view of Dal Lake from here. Normally all the gardens are crowded by locals as well as tourists. Thanks to rain, there were very few tourists today.
The terraced garden of Nishat Bagh!
The pavilion which also acts as a vantage point to view the lake
View of Dal Lake from the garden
We were now eager to see the largest of the Mughal gardens in India – Shalimar Bagh. Possibly the one in Lahore may be bigger than this.
It is large. It is beautiful. It is a charming place. It possibly belongs to the League of beautiful gardens in the World. Big Chinar trees, beautiful flower beds, fountains, and buildings with intricate artwork all add to the beauty of this place.
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 lit at night with oil lamps, which gave a fairy-tale appearance to the waterfalls.
However, now the niches hold pots of flower pots that reflect their colours behind the cascading water. The walls and ceiling of pavilions in the garden have beautiful intricate work of Kashmiri motifs. Sadly they are not well maintained. Thankfully the weather had cleared a bit though cloudy. The garden was looking nice in the dispersed sunlight.
Dewan -e-khas or royal Pavillion
Intricate artwork on the walls and ceilings
It was an afternoon well spent. It started drizzling even as we got out of Shalimar Bagh. Driving along Dal Lake was a pleasant experience. The sun was setting behind the hills and we could see a lone boatman on the lake……..possibly returning home.
a) You need at least half a day to explore these Mughal gardens of Srinagar. There is a nominal entry fee for the gardens.
b) During the season, the gardens get crowded with tourists. On weekends, by locals as well.
c) Explore the gardens leisurely. Appreciate the way they have been planned some five hundred years ago!
d) You don’t need any guide to explore these gardens.
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