Set amidst the fresh water lakes, and providing marvellous view of fountains and mountains, the splendid gardens of the state provide a gateway to the paradise on earth. Kashmir is considered the richest in gardens, consisting of numerous maple trees, refreshing fountains and countless blooming flowers. Gardens like the Shalimar Bagh, Nishat Bagh, Chashmashahi, near the panaromic Dal Lake and enchanting hills, have made their mark as successful tourist spots. Despite being around for centuries, these gardens are admired by tourists from all over the world.

Most of these gardens were established by the Mughals. They were highly impressed with abundant natural beauty of the state. Well-planned and vast, these gardens are popular for a number of flora and delightful water systems.

Mughal Gardens: Surrounded by panaromic lakes and majestic hills, the praiseworthy Mughal gardens serve as major attractions of the state of J&K. Acquiring an Islamic style of architecture, these gardens are believed to have been influenced by Persian and Timurid gardens. Terraced lawns, cascading fountains, and bright flowerbeds give these gardens its identity. Kashmir is believed to be famed as a paradise because of these Mughal gardens with vast picturesque hillsides, excellent water bodies and packed flowering shrubs and trees. The concept to establish such gardens was initiated by Babar, the founder of the Mughal dynasty in India. Later, all the popular gardens (Shalimar, Nishat, Chashmashahi etc.) were established by his descendants.

A few of them are:

Shalimar Garden: “If there is a paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this.” -Jahangir, the Mughal Emperor Originally called the Farah Bakhsh or ‘Delightful Garden’, the Shalimar Bagh is known as one of the finest foundation by the Mughals. The Shalimar Bagh is located in Srinagar, by the Dal Lake. With its four terraces, the bagh includes a number of fountains, shaded trees and innumerable varieties of flowers that blossom in spring and autumn. The best best views of the garden’s beauty are afforded during Autumn and Spring seasons, when leaves change their colour and the flowers blossom respectively. One can also enjoy a sound and light show (Son Et Lumeiere) in the evening, organised daily during the tourist season, i.e. May to October.

Shalimar was built by Emperor Jehangir for his wife Nur Jahan, in 1616. Covering a lush green area of 540 by 183 metres, the garden offers a wonderful view of the Dal Lake and the nearby hills. It is an excellent piece of Mughal architectural art as well. The garden has a canal in the center, which was used as a source of water supply. The magnificent upper terraces used be reserved for the emperor and the ladies. Black stone and black marble is used at several places including the pavilion and pillars. One can easily distinguish the Shalimar Garden from others on the basis of exotic terraced gardens, floral beds, and fascinating fountains.


Nishat Bagh: Another popular garden located on the eastern banks of beautiful Dal Lake, is Nishat Bagh or “The garden of bliss“. The garden boasts of being the largest one of the Mughal gardens in Kashmir. Located about 11 km from the Srinagar city, the garden is popular for its unique location that offers a splendid view of the Dal Lake, as well as the snow capped Pir Panjal mountain range, with the famous Zabarwan Mountains as its backdrop. The Nishat Garden was laid out by Asif Khan, the brother of Mughal Empress Nur Jehan, in 1633.
Like Shalimar Bagh, Nishat also has terraces, each representing a different Zodiac sign. A beautiful water chanel flows in the centre of the garden, providing a nice spot for walking amidst the lush greenery to refresh oneself. Gopi Tirth, the small spring behind the garden, supplies crystal clear water to the garden. Nishat garden provides a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a Shikara Ride amidst blooming flowerbeds, trees, fountains, etc. Apart from the scenic beauty, the garden also offers shopping facilities to its guests. One can find a number of shopping stalls situated opposite the garden. Nishat is counted among the most praiseworthy gardens of the state.

Gardens of Chashmashahi: The smallest of the Srinagar Mughal gardens, the Chashma Shahi or ‘Royal Spring’ has always been the favourite of royal families (from Mughals to Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab and even the Dogra rulers). The garden was laid out by the renowned Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, in 1632. ‘Chashma’ is basically an Urdu word that means “waterfall”. The garden was so named because of a mountain spring/waterfall that feeds it. The famous fresh water spring inside the garden is believed to have medicinal values. As the legend goes, when Mumtaz Mahal (Shah Jahan’s wife) fell ill and could not be cured even by the world’s best doctors, somebody suggested the emperor to take his wife to some health resorts. Shahjahan prefered to stay at Pari Mahal in Kashmir along with his queen. She enjoyed the fresh air and flora, and drank the sweet waters of Chashma Shahi, resulting in a dramatic improvement in her health. Since then, the place has been cherished. It abounds in fruits, flowers and chinar trees.

Beautiful terraces, an aqueduct, waterfalls and fountains are credited for the popularity of the garden. Moreover, it commands a pleasant view of the Dal Lake surrounded by mountain ranges. Measuring 108 m by 38 m, the garden is set up the hillside, above the Nehru Memorial Park.

Pari Mahal: Pari Mahal, situated in Srinagar, is valued more as a historical monument rather a park or garden. The Mahal was initially a Buddhist Monastery, which was later converted into an  observatory and a school of astrology by Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. He dedicated the place to his Sufi teacher Mulla Shah. Situated near the Chashmashahi Mughal Garden, Pari Mahal has beautiful terraced gardens that captivate the mind and soul oftourists.

The place is enriched with a number of fascinating fountains. The five storeyed building is almost ruined, but the remnants are still maintained by the state government. The picturesque sight of the famous Dal lake and illuminated image of Pari Mahal at night is an important tourist attraction. 

Harwan Garden: Situated about 18 km from Srinagar, Harwan is a huge garden lined with flowerbeds and massive Chinar Trees. A canal passes through its centre, which is dotted with countless flowers. The sweet fragrance in the air and big green-carpeted lawns make it an ideal spot for picnics and excursions. The garden serves as a gateway to the famous wildlife sanctuary of Dachi Gam and Mahadev Mountain.

Behind the garden, there is a small but beautiful Harwan lake that feeds the garden and provides an astounding view of the majestic mountains. The place offers you a natural feel, away from the polluted and noisy urban life. There are a number of hotels and restaurants to suit different budgets. Stay on a houseboat for a different feel.

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