The Gardens of Kashmir:
“The Kashmir Rajas laid beautiful gardens and planted shady trees in ancient times, this would add to the charm and beauty of the surroundings, but all seems deteriorated due to passage of time and unconcerned authorities besides callousness of the common man,” writes Hassan Khuihami a century back.
“During Muslim rule, the Sultans were very fond of laying gardens and to build structures, which have become a part of history now. Among them, Sultan Zain-ul-Abideen was the pioneer in laying gardens and to build buildings, especially he had laid a beautiful garden on four square miles land at Zainagir; on one side of it he built tall and towering buildings and on the other side , he planted rows of trees and flower beds, criss-crossed by canals and waterfalls. Often he used to enjoy scenic beauty of this garden. The environs of this garden had magnetized nobles and close aides of king and hence Zainagir had become a beautiful rose garden. During this period, Pandov Chaks, set ablaze buildings and the garden of Zainagir during night time.”
“The king laid a vast garden, with wonderful arrangements at Nalabal adjacent to Nowshehra, where he built a tall building having 12 compartments. Each compartment of this building had 50 rooms and every room could accommodate 500 men. This royal palace named “Zainadab,”was built for his personal use and people used to call it “Razdan.” A royal canal was dug out from Sindlar, which flowed through middle of this garden and it was in a stable condition upto Sikh rule.”
“Similarly he had laid a delightful garden at Zainapora with tall building structures and was one of the wonders of those times. Likewise, tall structures were raised at Zainakote hillock, which remained as memorial till Mughal era.”
“Hussain Shah Chak, laid a garden at Mohalla Nowhatta near the shrine of Hazrat Khwaja Moin-ud-Din Naqshbandi. Lachma kul flowed through it with a waterfall. During Mughal period, it was under the possession of Hazrat Khwaja Mahmood Naqshbandi, who built Khanqahi Naqshbandi here.”
“Yousuf Shah Chak laid a vast garden of flowers from Fateh Kadal to Dal Hassan Yar Ghat or river Vyth, upto Kuta-Kul bank and this garden was divided into 13 stages. Its traces were found upto Afghan period, now it has fallen prey to urbanization. Yousuf Shah Chak had built a wonderful building at Gulmarg, whose vestiges exist still there.”
The Moghul kings during their rule, laid gardens throughout the length and breadth of Kashmir, especially around Dal lake, the banks of river Vyth, the banks of springs and canals, the foot-hills of mountains, and awarded it the title of “Paradise on Earth”
The poets of this era namely Qudsee, Kareem, Saleem, Zaffar Khan, Khasalee, Mir Allahi and Bihishtee recorded ‘masnavis’, in praise of the gardens, buildings, trees, flowers and fruits of Kashmir. Some of the gardens are described as under:-
Jarogh Shahi: In 996 Hijri, the Moghul King Akbar identified a charming place at the base of Koh-i-Maran, towards east, where at the behest of Khwaja Hussain Kablee, the foundation stone was laid for the Royal Palace with marble and other precious stones. The pillars of Royal Palace were adorned with diamonds and pearls, and with beautiful architectural designs of roofs. A wonderful garden, “Darshini Bagh” was laid in front of Dal lake, and was planted with various varieties of trees, flowers, besides marble verandahs, tanks and waterfalls. Its three sides were planted with rows of popular trees.”
“Besides, around Kohi-Maran, are the residential quarters for princes, and stay-in arrangements for nobles, wazirs and army officers. Charming markets for traders, stony shops and painted houses of a new city called “Nagar Nagar” became famous. A wall around the fort of this city was raised which exists till now. In year 1187 Hijri, Amir Khan Jawan Sher, demolished Royal Palace and took the valuables. Ha carried stones to the centre of Dal lake and used them for construction at Amirabad Sonalank. The Royal Palace was in existence till Sikh rule.”
“In 1227 Hijri, Atta Mohammad Khan, built a fort on the peak of Koh-i-Maran. The inmates of fort were officers of government and women, who left fort due to suppression by the oppressors and the buildings of city were destroyed.”
“Dara Palace: Dara Shikwah, built strong structures, wonderful isolated residential houses, and painted halls at the foot of southern side of Koh-i-Maran. There are wonderful chambers, which still exist. A beautiful garden was laid in its compound where flowers and trees were planted. A water tank was arranged wherefrom water was carried through canals and waterfalls to the whole garden. Besides there is a mosque in its west, which the prince built for his teacher, Mulla Shah, and in east, is a “Hamam” built out of lime.”
“The garden of Farah Baksh: It is famous as Shalimar. During the period of Raja Parvarsain, a hermit, Sogram Swami by name was meditating in the vicinity of Harwan. The Raja would often visit him there. The saint built a royal palace there and hung pictures of various goddesses, past kings and Rajas and named it “Shalmarr.” Shal in Sanskrit means ‘House’ i.e. Dharamshal and ‘mar’stands for love i.e. beautiful. Shalimar means a beautiful house or the abode of God of love. With the passage of time, the royal palace dissipated and a village came up, commonly called Shalimar. Azeem Khan, during the days of governance, repaired the inside and the outside roof and walls, but Raja Ranbir Singh expanded it to keep it neat and clean. But Wazir Panu, removed copper outlets and replaced them with mud outlets and took cornelian, worth one kharwar by weight.”
Bagh-i-Faiz Baksh: It is a second stage of Shalimar. In the year 1040 AH, Zaffar Khan Ahsan, by orders of Shah-e-Jahan laid one beautiful garden ans a mausoleum to add to the beauty and charm of Bagi Farah Baksh. In the middle a strong tank filled with 132 fountains, was arranged and a splendid scenic spectacle was constructed out of Sang-e-musa and it was developed to be a very wonderful site. Both the stages were 590 yards in length and 307 yards in width with three yards high surrounding wall. Below it is a long canal which is 10-12 yards wide which leads upto Dal lake and its floor is filled with pebbles and stones. A tall building has been built on the bank of Dal lake with a delightful garden.
Bagh-i-Aishabad: At the edge of Sudra Khun towards east enroute Hazratbal, Jehangir laid this garden and with waters of Zukra Canal, which branches out from Sindlar, fountains and water falls were arranged to add to its beauty. Now only a few chinar trees are found there.
Bag-i-Bahar Ara: A vast wonderful garden with all facilities was laid at the instance of Noor Jehan, at the edge of Sudrakhun towards west opposite Aishabad at Bagwanpora. A canal flows from royal canal of Illahi Bagh through the garden. It is said that Emperor Jehangir would sit in a small boat and maids drev the boat in moonlight upto Illahi Bagh. At the highest level of the garden, a tall building of seven compartments, was built with the object of enjoying the scenery and serene beauty of Dal lake, during moonlight. Therefore this royal palace was given the name of “Bahree Ara”. Now the structures of this garden have been raised to ground. (However later on a leper home has come up in this spot.)
Noor Bagh: This garden was laid by Noor Jehan towards west of Idgah. A canal flows through it after branching out from royal canal, enroute Zoonimar and crossing through stony bridge.
Bagh-e-Safa: At Safapora towards northern edge of Mansar lake, a garden was laid alongwith tall buildings by Noor Jehan. Its foundations exist still.
Begumabad: It is famous by the name of Shahabad. It was laid at Achabal spring by orders of Noor Jehan in Pargana Kothar. There is a hamam made of granite. Now the buildings are no more there. Raja Ranbir Singh ordered for ordinary repairs.
Daulatabad: A wonderful flower garden was laid on the bank of Dal lake towards south of Hazratbal, at the instance of Jehangir. Nowadays it is used as a cropland. (This too has fallen prey to urbanization.)
Allahi Bagh: Adjacent to Buchpora village in Arwee area, is one of the famous structures of Shah Jehan. It was divided into four steps and the royal canal flowed through its middle. People used to go there from Buta Kadal Nala upto Allahi Bagh in boats. In ancient past there was a chinar with a girth of 16 yards. (This area too has got converted into a residential area during past about 4 decades.)
Bagh-i-Chinar: It was laid out on the eastern bank of river Vyeth at Shadipore village, as proposed by Shah Jehan. About 500 chinar trees were planted there.
Bagh-i-Pampore: At the bank of river Vyeth, towards east is one of the memorial structures of Shah Jehan. (not visible now)
Bagh-i-Wantipora: At the eastern bank of river Vyeth, Shah Jehan laid this verdant garden.
Bagh-i-Bijbhera: By the orders of Shah Jehan, Dara Shikwah laid this garden with tall buildings on the eastern bank of river Vyeth.
Asifabad: At the instance of Shah Jehan, Asif Khan, laid this garden, near the spring of Machbhavan in Mattan Pargana.
Shahabad: Hyder Malik, by orders of Shah Jehan laid a wonderful garden with building structures outside Verinagh spring. It is a wonderful garden adorned by fountains and waterfalls. It is said that it has four steps. With the passage of time, this garden has lost its bliss and glory. Raja Ranbir Singh repaired it changing its original design. (At present the department of Parks and Gardens has undertaken maintenance of most of such gardens)
Bagh-i-Naseem: Adjacent to Hazratbal towards north on the bank of Dal lake, a garden was laid by Shah Jehan. It is said that 112 saplings of chinar trees were planted at a time, during wee hours of morning, which were nourished by milk instead of water. None of the saplings got dried up. The green grass carpet surface is the gift of Bagh-i-Naseem. (Later the area served as a temporary campus for Regional Engineering College and forms a part of the University of Kashmir.)
Bagh-i-Nishat: Towards south of Shalimar at the foot of eastern mountain, Asaf Jha Khan, laid a garden on the bank of Dal lake, with buildings, fountains and waterfalls. In the year 1044 Hijri, when Shah Jehan visited the garden, he liked it very much as compared to Shalimar and with the idea that he will call this garden by his name, he repeatedly praised the beauty of the garden. Asaf Khan did not utter a word. Shah Jehan was sad, and closed the canal that was supplying water. One day Asaf Jha was sad and distressed and felt asleep. The gardener sensing the mood of his master, allowed the water of Shalimar stream to flow through Nishat Bagh with the sound of fountains and waterfalls. Asaf Khan awakened and enquired about the flow of water. The gardener said that in order to make the master happy, he regulated the flow of water from royal canal so that you are consoled. Now I am ready to face the consequences. And Jha was very happy and offered him gold equal to his body weight.
When the king came to know about it, he called the gardener and reprimanded him. He replied that since he saw his master in a state of grief and sorrow and sensing his restlessness, he without caring for his life, regulated flow of water from royal canal. I deserve punishment for this action. Instead the king presented him with gifts for this offence and ordered Asaf Jha Khan to regulate the flow of royal canal.
Bagh-i-Jehan Ara: It was Prince Dara Shikwa, who laid a garden in the island of Dal lake, towards south of Hazratbal adjacent to Bhat graveyard. With the passage of time it got demolished. During Durrani’s rule a fakir Lal Shah by name used to live there and it was thus called as Takia Lal Shah. This garden too has fallen prey to urbanization.
Bagh-i-Shahabad: Adjacent to Bagh-i-Jehan Ara, on the bank of Dal lake, Dara Shikwa laid a vast garden “Munna Phul” by name towards south near Hazratbal.
Bagh-i-Paree Mahal: It is famous as “Katlana”. It was Dara Shikwa, who laid this garden at the desire of his spiritual mentor, Mulla Shah, nearTheed village, on the slope of the mountain. There is a spring nearby, which provides water to the garden through water channels. Nowadays it is the abode of snakes and poisonous pythons are common here. The steps of the garden present a wonderful sight. ( Lately the garden and its structures have been restored by the concerned department)
Bagh-i-Char Chinar: It was laid by Prince Murad Baksh in Dal lake at the base of Koh-i-Sulaiman. Four chinars are present till now. The Governors and Sultans used to sit and enjoy here.
Bagh-i-Mulla Shah: It was laid by Dara Shikwah nar Darind village of Phak Pargana at the desire of his teacher, Mulla Shah. A royal canal traverses through it. A concrete building and a strong hamam still exist there.
Aurangabad: A beautiful garden was laid above Luka Bhavan spring by orders of Alamgir, but remained incomplete.
Zaffarabad: In 1042 Hijri, this garden was laid by Zaffar Khan Ahsan, the Governor during Shah Jehan’s period at Zoonimar mohalla on the bank of Anchar lake near Braiwar.
Bagh-i-Gulshan: It was laid by Zaffar Khan in 1044 Hijri, on the southern edge of Dal lake from Bota kadal to Amda kadal, (It is all urbanized now.)
Bagh-i-Ahsanabad: It is known as Hassanabad. Zaffar Khan laid it towards north of Naidyar. There were concrete buildings, one Imam Bara and a strong concrete structure. The garden does not exist now there.
Bagh-i-Anayat: It was adjacent towards north of “Sayid Mohammad Madni’s shrine”. Lachma kul was flowing through the middle. All these four gardens mentione above were laid by zaffar Khan.
Hyderabad: Adjacent to Nalla near Nowshehra, Ali Mardan Khan, laid a garden with concrete buildings, fountains and waterfalls, for his residence. Earlier the garden was laid by Sultan Zain-ul-Abideen.
Bagh-i-Aliabad: During the rule of Shah Jehan in 1064 AH, Ali Mardan Khan laid the garden above Telbal village, with tall buildings, concrete walls, a big canal, a vast tank, fountains and waterfalls etc. Its foundations are still in existence.
Bagh-i-Aradat Khan: Towards east of Nowpora, Aradat Khan in 1o3o AH, during reign of Jehangir laid this garden at Sonti Buton Har. In its east, buildings and steps were made with such artistic pattern and design that is not found anywhere.
Bagh-i-Dilawar Khan: On the northern bank of Brari Nambal, adjacent to Kalashpora, Dilawar Singh during the reign of Jehangir laid the garden in 1027 AH. It is still in stable condition dur to repairs by thr Government. (Later on the garden was used to house the Multipurpose Higher SecondarySchool, and now a college has come up there.)
Bagh-i-Lashkar Khan: It was laid by Saif Khan, the Governor of Kashmir in Alamghir’s period, on the bank of Dal lake, on northern side, at Batapora village of Phak pargana, in 1068 AH. To irrigate it he dug out a special canal from Sindlar, but due to his transfer, the project remained incomplete. During 1293 AH, Raja Ranbir Singh, established a silk factory here and laid a garden at its peak, by the name of Ranbir Singh Bagh.
Bagh-i-Aqwam-ud-Din Khan: In 1080 AH, during Alamghir’s time, Qamar-ud-Din Khan laid a garden towards west of Idgah at Rathpora village adjacent to Noorbagh. It is now extinct.
Bagh-i-Sadarat Khan: Sadarat Khan, one of the wazirs of Shah Jehan, laid this garden at Pandach village of Phak pargana.
Bagh-i-Sadiqabad: It is famous as Hazratbal. Sadiq Khan, one of the nobles of Shah Jehan, laid this garden, with a beautiful building on the western bank of Dal lake.
In 1044 AH Shah Jehan, after ablution offered 2 rakats of namaz at this spot. He said to Sadiq Khan, that the building is not for recreation, but for prayers. After 69 years in 1111 AH, the sacred relic of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was brought by Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Ishbari from Bijapora. Fazil Khan, who was the Subedhar of Kashmir in those days, after consulting responsible citizens decided to put the holy relic in the said building, and it was named as Hazratbal. Now it is not a garden. The well wishers of Dargah, making amendments, constructed a mosque towards western side and a Khanqah towards east in 1285 AH. (Later a marble structure on the pattern of Madina Sharif was constructed after dismantling the old structure, besides a new mosque came up after the western wing housing Dar-ul-Aloom got consumed in fire.)
Bagh-i-Afzalabad: Afzal Khan, one of the nobles of Shah Jehan laid this garden in the vicinity of Hazratbal.
Bagh-i-Jaffar Khan: Three number gardens were laid during Alamgir’s rule. One is an island, named Batamazar and is adjacent to Bagh-i-Jehan Ara. Other two gardens do not exist.
Qazi Bagh: Abul Wasim famous as Qazizada, laid this garden on the banks of Mansar spring towards east. He also constructed the embankment of Drugjan.
Chowdry Bagh: Chowdry Mahas, who was one of the richest man during Shah Jehan’s time, laid this garden near Ishabari. It is said that there were eighty beds and he repaired the embankment of Vatalnimarg, the memorial of Sultan Sikandar.The Governor of Kashmir Saif Khan, after visiting the garden remarked, Chowdry did not lay a garden, but he deceived Saif Khan.
Bagh-i-Afra Sayab Khan: During Muhammad Shah’s rule, Afra Sayab Khan, laid this garden towards north of Hazratbal.
Bagh-i- Kifayat Khan: Kifayat Khan, who was the Deputy Governor of Afghans laid this garden with buildings, trres and flower beds in 1208 AH. At present it is under paddy cultivation and is under the possession of Pandit Mahanand Joodhar.
Bagh-i-Amrood: It has been laid between the era of Jehangir and Shah Jehan from Tankipora bridge upto Natipora. There were different varieties of Guava, in abundance and the sunrays do not fall on it. During its flowering season, the people of the city visit there for enjoyment and entertainment. It was in existence till Amir Khan’s time. (The whole area has got urbanized now.)
Bagh-i-Angoor: From Diyara Laree mountain adjacent to Safapora, upto the Shrine of Shah Muhammad Sadiq Qalandhar, the grape cuttings were planted at the base of the mountain during the time of ancient Sultans. The Mughal kings, developed it and the varieties of grapes became famous throughout world, and these grapes were presented to the kings of other countries as gifts. As Durrani kings did not poay any attention foe its maintenance, it lost its glory. Only Raipur conserved cultivation of grapes. It was Raja Gulab Singh who maintained it and is remembered as Maharaj Bagh. In 1294 AH, Maharaja Ranbir Singh, laid a big orchard of grapes near Wandhama village and named it as Ranbir Bagh.
The Raipur grapes are famous throughout India. The Europeans also like it.
In “Masnavi Haft Manzil” Zaffar Khan Ahsan writes that Mougal kings planted grapes on left and right side of the road from Islamabad to Verinagh.
Bagh-i-toot: Maya Swami was a saintly man, who was living at the base of Takht-i-Sulaiman in isolation. He laid a wonderful garden on tha bank of Apple canal, which is known as Takya Maya Swami. The people of city visit this place for recreation. Hazrat Mir Muhammad Hamadani purchased the said Takya and attached the area from the bank of river Vyeth and from Amira Kadal to Kohi Sulaiman. He planted the grafted mulberry trees from one edge to another and endowed it as pasture land for city animals. Some trees were standing here up to Durrani era.
Haji Karim Dad Khan felled the left out trees and developed it a race course for horses. He planted popular trees, which exist even today. He bifurcated it and planted fruit trees and raised chinar trees on the north on the bank of Apple canal.
It is said that mosquitoes are lesser in number here. Later on Shaikh Mohi-ud-Din arranged a waterfall on its southern corner. During Ranbir Singh’s period, various bungalows were constructed on the bank of river as residential houses for English tourists. Tall buildings and vast gardens were laid for the department of “Residency.”
Daulatabad: Abdul Raina son of Rawan Raina laid a spacious garden from Jogi Lankar bridge to Surateng limits, known as Rainawari. His grandson Jehangir Raina endowed this garden to the disciples of Baba Ismail, and they possessed it for some time. It is said that thousands of grape trees were planted here. Hazrat Shaikh Hamza during his tender age used to guard it, as ordained by hia patron. Hazrat Baba at the time of his death endowed the said garden to people of the city for graveyard, and attached it with Malakha. Some area of this garden is under buildings.
Amirabad: When Amir Khan Jawan Sheer during his governance married the daughter of a boatman of Nasndapora, he built a royal palace at Nandapora and also laid a spacious garden there. From Darshini Bagh, which lies before Jerokha Shahi, the stones used for tanks, fountains and waterfalls were carried from there and fitted in Amirakadal.
Bagh-i-Aaqa Hussain: Aaqa Hussain was one of the rich men from Afghans. It is located on south of Nishat Bagh.
Bagh-i-Sukhram: Sukhram was one of the magnates of Kashmir during Sikh rule. The garden exists still at the base of Koh-i-Sulaiman.
Bagh-i-Ban Singh: It was laid by Behman Singh during his rule in 1245 AH, from Shergadi bala to Natipora.
Rambagh: It is among the constructions of Dewan Kripa Ram, on the bank of Dudgangha adjacent to Natipora. In the year 1274 AH, Gulab Singh was laid to rest here. Maharaja Ranbir Singh, built temples and other structures in 1275 AH here on the cremation ground.
Shaikh Bagh: It was laid by Shaikh Mohi-ud-Din in 1250 AH, towards east of Amira Kadal. At present there is graveyard of European people.
Bagh-i-Hari Singh: It was laid by Sardar Hari Singh during his rule and is adjacent to Shaikh Bagh.
Basant Bagh: It is opposite to Shergadh, on the bank of river in east and was laid by Colonel Mian Singh during his rule and the stones from the compound and tank of new mosque were uprooted and fitted in the garden.
Munshi Bagh: It was Munshi Talwak Singh, one of the nobles during Sikh rule, who laid this garden, above Bagh-i-Hari Singh.
Gulab Bagh: It was laid by Maharaja Gulab Singh near Tankipora bridge towards west of Shergadh.
Hazuree Bagh: Maharaja Ranbir Singh laid this garden with buildings, trees and flowers in 1288 AH, from Behman Singh Bagh to Shargadh bala.
Samandhar Bagh: It was laid by Maharaja Ranbir Singh at Maisuma.
Raghunagh Bagh: The garden was laid by Ranbir Singh near Saif Khan bagh in Habak village of pargana Phak.
Kothi Bagh: Above Amirakadal on the bank of river towards the south, the garden was laid by Maharaja Ranbir Singh in 1292 AH. On the bank of river, magnificent buildings with spacious halls, galleries, visiting rooms and recreational halls were constructed with paintings, photographs and different types of colourful drawings. It was the residential palace of the Maharaja and it served as a guest house for the Europeans. In the year 1203, it suffered damage due to earthquake. (Later it housed Government Arts Emporium and was consumed in fire. It has been rebuilt on the same design as before.)
Khwaja Bagh: In Khanyar at Thengha mohalla, Khwaja Sanaullah after purchasing a good area of land, attached with his residence laid a wonderful garden, with flower beds, tanks, fountains, waterfalls, conference halls and buildings in the year 1295 AH. More than one lakh rupees were soent on this construction. (The garden does not exist now.)
Most of the above cited gardens mentioned in Tarikh-i-Hassan about a century back are extinct due to onslaught of time and pressure of urbanization. Thus the land of Kashmir once bedecked with gardens, water channels, fountains, trees and flowers has turned to be full of masonry structures and is now getting converted to concrete jungles.