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Shalimar Bagh of Kashmir

The Heaven on Earth

Natallia Savitskaya, Author
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"Gardens of the Mughals" pp. 158-167

"The whole country, however, is not very large, consisting of one main valley ninety miles long by twenty-five miles broad, completely encircled by high mountains, and when the Mughal Emperors visited it, the difficulties of transport and of securing provisions, as well as the actual dangers of the road over the mountain passes, made it necessary to restrict the number of the Court as far as possible. Only nobles of the first rank were permitted to accompany the Emperor and Empress." pp.153-154

"Fully grown they resemble heavy-foliaged sycamores with serrated leaves and smooth, silvery boles and branches. They were, and are, greatly prized for their size and beauty, and more especially for their dense shade." p.158-159

"The famous Shalimar Bagh lies at the far end of the Dal Lake. According to a legend, Pravarsena II., the founder of the city of Srinagar who reigned in Kashmir from A.D. 79 to 139, had built a villa on the edge of the lake, at its north-eastern corner, calling it Shalimar, which in Sanskrit is said to mean "The Abode or Hall of Love." The king often visited a saint, named Sukarma Swami, iving near Harwan, and rested in the villa on his way. In course of time the royal garden vanished, but the village that had sprung up in its neighborhood was called Shalimar after it. The Emperor Jahangir laid out a garden on this same old site in the year 1619." p.162

"A canal runs through the marshy swamps, the willow groves, and the rice-fields that fringe the lower end of the lake, connecting the garden with the deep open water. On each side there are broad green paths overshadowed by large chenars." p.162

It is divided "as was usual in royal pleasure-grounds, into three separate parts: the outer garden, the central or Emperor's garden, and the last and most beautiful of the three, the garden for the special use of the Empress and her ladies."p.163

"The outer or public garden, starting with the grand canal leading from the lake, terminates at the first large pavillion, the Diwan-i-'Am. From time to time this garden was thrown open to the people so that they might see the Emperor enthroned in his Hall of Public Audience." p.163

"The second garden is slightly broader, consisting of two shallow terraces with the Diwan-i-Khas (The Hall of Private Audience) in the centre. The buildings have been destroyed, but their carved stone bases are left, as well as a fine platform surrounded by fountains. On the north-west boundary of this enclosure are the royal bathrooms." p.164

"Here the whole effect culminates with the beautiful black marble pavilion built by Shah Jahan, which still stands in the midst of its fountain spray; the green glitter of the water shining in the smooth, polished marble, the deep rich tone of which is repeated in the old cypress trees." p.164

"How well the Mughals understood the principle that the garden, like every other work of art, should have a climax." p.164

"This unique pavilion is surrounded on every side by a series of cascades, and at night when the lamps are lighted in the little arched recesses behind the shining waterfalls, it is even more fairy-like than by day." pp.164-165

"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 stream."p.167

Villiers-Stuart, C.M. Gardens of the Great Mughals. London, 1913.
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