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Mughal Gardens!

Nishat Bagh :
The Garden of bliss laid down by Asif Khan father of Empress Noorjahan in 1633AD on the bank of Dal Lake with Zabarvan Massif at the back. In Nishat commands magnificent view of the Lake and the Snow capped Pir Panchal Range to the west of the valley.

Originally, this garden had 12 terraces rising higher up the mountain side from the eastern side of the Dal Lake but the lower terrace, which stretched down to the lake, no longer exists now, having been cut off by the modern road. The garden, thus, consists of only nine terraces at present.

The brightest spot in the garden is the second terrace. This, in the words of R.C. Kak, "with its thick groves of Persian lilacs, its high, broad and vertical cascade of sparkling water and its beds of brilliant pansies, is the most fragrant beauty". R.C. Kak further says that the "twenty-three small niches in the arched recess immediately behind the cascade were originally intended for rows of lamps, whose flickering light, reflected

and multiplied in the transparent sheet of water behind which they lay, must have presented a singularly pleasing spectacle at night". Mrs. Stuart, in her poetic language, quoted by Dr. Sufi, says : "The stream tears foaming down the carved cascade, fountains play in every tank and water-course, filling the garden with their joyous life and movement".

There are two main pavilions, one at the lower and the other at the upper end of the garden. In the middle there is a reservoir of about 14 feet square and three feet deep with a few fountains.

Shalimar Bagh :
The Abode Of Love. Is said to have been a village, built by Paravarassna II. He used to stay here when on a visit to Sukhswami a saint living near Harwan. In 1619 Jehangir ordered a garden to be laid out this spot, calling it, Ferrah Bakkash (Delightful). In 1727 A.D Zaffar-Khan. A governor during the reign of Shah Jahan made an extension of it and called it Faiz Baksh (Bountiful).

There are four terraces rising one above the other and nearly of equal dimensions. Bamzai, giving the graphic description of the garden, writes: "There is a line of tanks or reservoirs along the middle of the whole length of the garden and these are connected by a canal, 18 inches deep and from 9 to 14 yards wide. The tanks and the canal with their scheme of fountains and cascades, are lined with polished limestone, resembling black marble. The water to feed these is obtained from the Haman stream behind the garden".

The fourth terrace was the private portion of the garden. The ladies stayed there. "It contains in its centre a magnificent black stone pavilion on which is raised a platform, a little more than three feet high and sixty-five feet square. Its sloping roof is almost 20 feet high and is supported on each side by a row of six elaborately carved black marble pillars, which are polygonal-shaped and fluted". It was used as a banquet hall.

Cheshma Shahi

Cheshma Shahi or the Royal Spring was laid by Shah Jahan in 1632 A.D. It is 9 Km. from the city centre and is famous for a spring of refreshment digestive water, having a natural spring of Pure, Cool and Sparking water.  Two kilometers uphill from Cheshma Shahi is situated the Pari Mahal ( The palaces of Fairies) , a school of astrology founded by Prince Dara Shikoh, Emperor Shah Jahan's eldest son who was killed in the war of succession.The Cheshma Shahi-Pari Mahal area has been developed into a Tourist Village.

Aldous Huxley says that Chashma Shahi is "architecturally the most charming of the gardens near Srinagar".

Parimahal ( The palaces of Fairies)

Next to Maharaja's palace we find the ruins of Pari Mahal, "the fairies abode", upon the mountain slope. It is situated to the west of Cheshma Shah, and a ruined garden palace. The construction of this palace is ascribed to Dara Shikoh, who was beheaded in 1659 by Aurangzeb. The garden consists of six terraces, with a total length of about 400 feet. The width of the terraces varies from 197 feet to 205 feet.

Pari Mahal is surrounded by gardens.

In the uppermost terrace are the ruins of two structures, a baradhari, facing the lake, and a water reservoir, built against the mountain side. The reservoir was fed by a spring which has since gone dry. In the middle of the second terrace exactly in front of the baradhari is a large tank with brick sides measuring 36'-6" by 26'-6".

The third terrace is quite an interesting part of the garden. The entrance arched in front and behind with a central domed chamber, is in the middle of the east. It is painted with white plaster. On either side of it are a few large rooms, one of which appears to have been a hammam. Its interior is most decorated. On the south of the entrance are a few other chambers.


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Harwan Garden

Harwan Garden is situated in the district of in Srinagar. A beautiful and massive garden, Harwan is a popular picnic spot. A beautiful canal, fed from a lake just behind the garden, passes through its center. The canal is bordered with blossoming flowerbeds and chinar trees. Kashmir Harwan Garden does not have the usual terraces, artificial fountains, etc, like the other gardens of Kashmir. It has been deliberately kept devoid of these man-made things. The main attraction of the Harwan garden of Kashmir, India, is its natural beauty that is present in plenty. The big lawns, carpeted with green grass, draw people automatically towards this place. An ideal spot for picnics and excursions, Harwan is the perfect place to take long walks in the lap of nature. It also serves as a take-off point for visiting Dachi Gam Wild life sanctuary and a starting point of a Mahadev Mountain trek.

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