A Stroll in the Gardens of Kashmir

There are many places in India that are a must visit, at least once. If you want mountains and valleys, you will get them or if you prefer the waters, you can visit that too! It is very rare for a single country to house such a wide variety of natural diversities. If you love the mountains and valleys, then it does not get better than Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir are a piece of paradise on earth. It has been one of the most favourite places of many famous personalities from our country. The Mughals too were particularly fond of this place. Travelling to this little slice of paradise is easy since it is well connected by flights as well as trains to other parts of India.

One of the major attractions of this place is its gardens. These gardens, which are all artificially structured and planned, are some of the most beautiful gardens in the world. It is quite natural that these gardens would be some of the grandest ones. The Mughals loved to build gardens, even within the four walls of their fort. Kashmir was one of the most preferred places by the Mughals, and hence, they commissioned building many gardens here as well. The interspersing water bodies that characterise the land of Kashmir add to the beauty and vibrancy of its gardens.

When visiting a place, we always have a plan prepared, with the names of the places, which we want to visit as a part of our sightseeing tour. For example, if one is visiting Delhi for the first time, then the Red Fort, the Jama Masjid and the Qutub Minar are a few things that will always be on their list. Similarly, when visiting Kashmir for the first time, some famous gardens are always a must watch. Here’s a list of some of the most famous and not to mention beautiful gardens in Kashmir, which you cannot afford to give a miss:

  1. Nishat Bagh: Do you remember Noor Jahan? Yes, correct, she was the wife of Jahangir, the successor of Akbar. It was her brother, Asaf Khan who commissioned the building of this garden. Mughals were well-known for carrying out trade relations with what is now popularly known as the Middle East. The beauty of this garden is the lovely chinar trees that you will find here. These trees were all brought from Persia, just to be planted in this garden. Many Mughal emperors later added to this collection of trees at Nishat Bagh. This garden was not simply about flowers and trees; it had structures built as rest houses as well, remnants of which are found today. There are terraces from where you can get a bird’s eye view of the entire garden. There are 12 such terraces, which stand for all the zodiac signs. The Dal Lake adds to the beauty of the entire garden.
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  1. Shalimar Garden: The most popular and the grandest of all the gardens in Srinagar and the whole of Jammu and Kashmir is Shalimar Garden. While Nishat Bagh was commissioned by Nur Jahan’s brother, this garden was built for her! Wondering by whom? Well, here husband, the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. It was built sometime in the year 1616 and stands vibrant and beautiful even today, as a symbol of love. The original name of this magnificent garden was Farah Bakhsh, which means “most delightful garden”. Like the other gardens, you would also find structures that used to be resting houses. Remains suggest that one such structure was for the ladies. Black stones were primarily used. The garden is well watered through a canal which brings in water from the Harwan. If you plan your trip in between the summer and autumn months, you will surely be fascinated by a “Light and Sound Show,” which tells the story of the Mughal emperors and their stories of love. If you are visiting Jammu and Kashmir, it is of paramount importance that you visit this place.

  1. Pari Mahal: Love is not always for a person, but it can also be for your guru, your spiritual guide, who leads you to the path of salvation. The Pari Mahal stands as an example of that. Shah Jahan’s son, Dara Shikho, who was killed by Aurangazeb in a bid for the throne, had a teacher- Mulla Shah. Mulla Shah identified himself as a Sufi peer and taught Shikho the basic tenants of this way of life. In honour of his teacher, Shikho fashioned the Pari Mahal. Though now owned by the state, it speaks of the grandeur that it once had. You will find numerous dried up springs. The best part about these gardens are that they transport you back in time and you can imagine what it might have been like back in those days. Though supposedly this used to be a Buddhist monastery, it was turned into the beautiful Pari Mahal by Dara Shikho.
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  1. Chashma Sahi Gardens: The one, who built the ultimate symbol of love, is also the one who commissioned the building of this garden- Shah Jahan. There is a spring from the mountains, which is responsible for supplying water to the gardens. There are a total of three terraces, numerous fountains, waterfalls and even an aqueduct. There is a definite calmness and serenity in the atmosphere here, which makes it just ideal for meditation or procrastination, or simply stroll. So, if you want to spend a nice time in the splendour of the Mughal gardens, this would be a perfect choice.

These are some of the most well-known and most visited gardens in Jammu and Kashmir. These gardens are, in fact, one of the major contributing factors, which have earned this state the title of a paradise on earth. Apart from the gardens, you can also visit Harwan, a village, on the southern side of which one will come across magnificent pavements structured from tiles, which suggest that they belong to the heyday of Buddhism of India. Whatever you do, whichever place you decide to visit, the gardens are something that you have to visit when you are visiting this state for the first time. In fact, they are so beautiful you will feel like going back to them over and over again.

Rahul Sharma

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