Nishat Bagh (Urdu: ???? ????, Hindi: ????? ????), is a terraced Mughal garden built on the eastern side of the Dal Lake, close to Srinagar in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India. It is the second largest Mughal garden in the Kashmir Valley. The largest in size is the Shalimar Bagh, which is also located on the bank of the Dal Lake. ‘Nishat Bagh’ is Hindustani, which means “Garden of Joy,” “Garden of Gladness” and “Garden of Delight.”
Located on the bank of the Dal Lake, with the Zabarwan Mountains as its backdrop, Nishat Bagh is a garden of bliss that commands a magnificent view of the lake beneath the snow capped Pir Panjal mountain range that stands far away to the west of the valley. The Bagh was designed and built in 1633 by Asif Khan, elder brother of Nur Jehan.
An interesting anecdote of jealousy of the Emperor Shah Jahan on beholding such a delightful garden, which almost shutdown the garden for some time, is narrated. When Shah Jahan saw this garden, after its completion in 1633, he expressed great appreciation of its grandeur and beauty. He is believed to have articulated his appreciation three times to Asif Khan, his father-in- law, with the hope that he would gift it to him. As no such offer was made by Asif Khan, Shah Jahan was piqued and ordered closure of the water supply to the garden. Then, for some time, the garden was deserted. Asif Khan was desolate and heartbroken; he was uninterested in the sequence of events. When he was resting under the shade of a tree, in one of the terraces, his servant was bold enough to turn on the water supply source from the Shalimar Bagh. When Asif Khan heard the sound of water and the fountains in action he was startled and immediately order closure of water supply as he feared the worst reaction from the emperor for this wanton act of disobedience. Fortunately for the servant and Asif Khan, Shaha Jahan, who had heard about this incident at the garden, was not disturbed or annoyed by the disobedience of his orders. Instead, he appreciated the servant for loyal service to his master and then ordered full restoration rights for the supply of water to the garden to Asif Khan, his Prime Minister and father-in-law.
Even though the layout of Nishat Bagh was based on the basic conceptual model of the Persian gardens, it had to be remodelled to fit the topographic and water source conditions at the site chosen in the Kashmir valley. The plan, instead of being central with four radiating arms in a square pattern as in the case of Chahar (suited for a flat country side), was changed to an axial stream flow design to fit the hill condition with water source originating at the top of the hill end. This resulted in planning a rectangular layout rather than a square layout. This helped in dispensing with the long side arms. Thus, a rectangular layout with east-west length of 548 metres (1,798 ft) and width of338 metres (1,109 ft) was adopted.
Thus, Nishat Bagh as laid out now is a broad cascade of terraces lined with avenues of chinar and cypress trees, which starts from the lakeshore and reaches up to an artificial façade at the hill end. Rising from the edge of the Dal Lake, it has twelve 12 terraces representing twelve Zodiacal signs. However, it has only two sections, namely the public garden and the private garden for the Zanana or harem vis-à-vis the four sections of the Shalimar Bagh; this difference is attributed to the fact that the latter Bagh catered to the Mughal Emperor, while Nishad Bagh belonged to a man of his court, a noble. There are, however, some similarities with the Shalimar Bagh, such as the polished stone channel and terraces. The source of water supply to the two gardens is the same. Built in an east-west direction, the top terrace has the Zenana garden while the lowest terrace is connected to the Dal Lake. In recent years, the lowest terrace has merged with the approach road. A spring called the Gopi Thirst provides clear water supply to the gardens. There are a few old Mughal period buildings in the vicinity of the Bagh.
Shalimar Bagh, (Hindi: ??????? ????, Urdu: ??????? ???), is a Mughal garden linked through a channel to the northeast of Dal Lake, on its right bank located near Srinagar city in the Jammu and Kashmir. Its other names are Shalamar Garden, Shalamar Bagh, Farah Baksh and Faiz Baksh, and the other famous shore line garden in the vicinity is Nishat Bagh. The Bagh was built by Mughal Emperor Jahangir for his wife Nur Jahan, in 1619. The Bagh is considered the high point of Mughal horticulture. It is now a public park.
During the Mughal period in particular, Emperor Jahangir and his wife Nur Jahan were so enamoured of Kashmir that during summer they moved to Srinagar with their full court entourage from Delhi at least 13 times. Shalimar Bagh was their imperial summer residence and the Royal Court. They crossed the arduous snowy passes of the Pir Panjal mountain range on elephants to reach Srinagar
The layout of the garden is an adaptation of another Islamic garden layout known as the Persian gardens. This garden built on a flat land on a square plan with four radiating arms from a central location as the water source. It needed to be modified to suit the hilly terrain and availability of a well, which could be diverted from a higher elevation to the planned gardens. Modifications involved the main channel running through the garden axially from top to the lowest point. This central channel, known as the Shah Nahar, is the main axis of the garden. It runs through three terraces. This layout left out the radial arms and the shape became rectangular, instead of a square plan of the Chahar Bagh.
The garden, as finally laid out, covers an area of 12.4 hectares (31 acres) built with a size of 587 metres (1,926 ft) length on the main axis channel and with a total width of 251 metres (823 ft). The garden has three terraces fitted with fountains and with chinar (sycamore) tree-lined vistas. The Shahnahar is the main feeder channel to all the terraces. Each one of the three terraces has a specific role
The garden was linked to the open Dal Lake water through a canal of about 1 mile (1.6 km) length and 12 yards (11 m) in width that ran through swampy quagmire. Willow groves and rice terraces fringed the lake edge. Broad green paths bordered the lake with rows of chinar trees. The garden was laid in trellised walkways lined by avenues of aspen trees planted at 2 feet (0.61 m) interval.
The Chashme Shahi originally derives its name from the spring which was discovered by the great female saint of Kashmir, Rupa Bhawani, who was from the Sahib clan of Kashmiri Pandits. The family name of Rupa Bhawani was ‘Sahib’ and the spring was originally called ‘Chashme Sahibi’. Over the years the name got corrupted and today the place is known as Chashme Shahi (the Royal Spring).
The garden was constructed around the spring by the Mughal Governor Ali Mardan Khan in 1632. It was commissioned by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his eldest son, Dara Sikoh. In the east of Chashma Shahi the Pari Mahal (Fairy Palace) lies where Dara Sikoh used to learn astrology and where he was later killed by his brother Aurengzeb. The garden is 108 m long and 38 m wide and is spread over one acre of land. It is the smallest garden among the three Mughal gardens of Srinagar; the Shalimar garden is the largest and the Nishat garden is the second largest. All the three gardens were built at the left bank of the Dal Lake, with Zabarwan mountains at the backdrop.
The garden presents Mughal architecture as used in different Mughal gardens. The artistically build garden has Iranian influence in its art and architecture and the design is based on the Persian gardens. It is built around a fresh water spring, discovered by Rupa Bhawani, which flows through its centre in terraces. The topography and the steepness of the land has led the formation of the garden. The main focus of the garden is the spring which flows down in terraces and is divided into three sections: an aqueduct, waterfall, and fountains. A two-storey Kashmiri hut stands at the first terrace which is the origin of the spring. The water then flows down through a water ramp (chadar) into the second terrace. The second terrace serves as a water pool and a large fountain stands at its centre. The water again flows down through a water ramp into the third terrace, which is a square five-fountain pool. It is the lowest pool at the entrance of the garden. The visitors are received through a flight of stairs on both sides of the terraces which leads up to the origin of the spring. The English writer and traveler Aldous Huxley wrote about the garden that “the little Chashma Shahi is architecturally the most charming of the gardens near Srinagar”. The water of the spring is believed to have some medicinal properties. The former Premier of India, Jawahar Lal Nehru, used to get the water of the spring to Delhi.
The Chashme Shahi is located within the jurisdiction of Srinagar city, 14 kilometres (9 mi) in the northeast from the Srinagar Airport. It is adjacent to Rajbhawan (Governor’s house). The garden is connected by the Boulevard Road which passes along the banks of the Dal lake. There are many hotels and restaurants available for boarding and lodging near the garden. The garden remains open for tourists from March to November. The best time to visit the garden is from April to October. The garden is at full bloom during May and June.