If you’re looking for a delightful adventure, the captivating Shalimar Garden in Srinagar is a must-visit. Let’s take a journey through this enchanting place and uncover its hidden gems.
A Royal Beginning
Centuries ago, the founder of Srinagar, Pravarsena II, built a villa on the edge of Dal Lake. He named it Shalimar, which means “The Abode or Hall of Love” in Sanskrit. This villa was a favourite resting spot for the king during his visits to a nearby saint. While the original royal garden vanished, the village that grew around it retained the name Shalimar. In 1619, Emperor Jahangir revived the garden’s luxury on the same site.
Canals, Pathways, and Memories
Imagine a canal stretching a mile long and twelve yards wide, winding through marshy swamps, willow groves, and rice fields near the lake. This canal connects Shalimar Garden to the open water. On both sides of the canal, broad green paths shaded by majestic Chinar Trees create a serene atmosphere. As you enter through the canal, you’ll notice the remains of an old gateway, and traces of the stone embankment that once lined the watercourse.
The Legacy of Mughal Design
Thanks to the efforts of the Maharaja of Kashmir, Shalimar Garden has been preserved in its Mughal grandeur. It spans about 590 yards in length and 267 yards in width. Just like other royal pleasure gardens, Shalimar is divided into three parts: the outer garden, the central Emperor’s garden, and a special garden for the Empress and her companions.
The Outer Garden
As you start your journey, the grand canal leads you into the outer garden. The highlight here is the Diwan-i-‘Am, a majestic pavilion. Above the canal’s central waterfall stands a small black marble throne. This garden was occasionally opened to the public, allowing them to witness the Emperor’s public audiences.
The Central Garden
A bit broader than the outer garden, the second section is divided into two shallow terraces. At its heart is the Diwan-i-Khas, where private audiences took place. Though the buildings are no longer standing, you can still see their ornate stone bases and a platform surrounded by el
elegant fountains. Nearby, you’ll find the remains of the royal baths.
A Garden Fit for Royalty
As you move towards the ladies’ garden, you’ll pass through rebuilt guard rooms that welcome you in Kashmiri style. The absolute beauty of Shalimar Garden culminates here with the stunning black marble pavilion built by Shah Jahan. Cascades surround this pavilion, crafting an enchanting atmosphere, particularly when lamps illuminate it at night.
In the past, Shalimar Garden boasted shady alleys with pergolas, structures covered in climbing plants. These pathways have faded under European influence, but traces of the old vines remain. Reintroducing pergolas would be a wonderful idea, adding charm to the garden. They would provide a shaded walkway with blooming flowers before the vines and roses create a natural canopy.
A Serene Oasis
Shalimar Garden offers a unique sense of calm and beauty. It’s a place of shallow terraces, shimmering water, and peaceful canals. As you cross the stepping stones, you’ll feel a sense of peacefulness that’s truly special.
For a change of scenery, visit the Nishat Bagh on Dal Lake, built by Asaf Khan, Nur-Mahal’s brother. This equally stunning garden is another chapter in Srinagar’s rich history.
The Shalimar Garden in Srinagar is a treasure trove of beauty, history, and serenity. With its canals, pavilions, and enchanting ambiance, it offers a glimpse into the grandeur of the Mughal era. If you’re seeking a peaceful escape, this garden is waiting to welcome you.