Nestled in the Kashmir Valley, on the banks of Jhelum River, Srinagar is a scenic beauty! The word Srinagar has a Sanskrit origin which essentially means The City of Wealth. Faithful to the very essence of the word, Srinagar’s indispensable wealth lies in its breath-taking valleys and gardens. It truly is Heaven on Earth! One historically significant and a picturesque location in Srinagar is Nishat Bagh. Let’s take a glimpse of this beautiful place!
Nishat is an Urdu word which simply means ‘joy,' Nishat Garden on several occasions has been called the ‘Garden of Joy,' ‘Garden of Gladness’ and ‘Garden of Delight.' It is the second largest Mughal Garden in the Vale of Kashmir, the largest one being the Shalimar Bagh.
Located on the banks of Dal Lake, the garden is spread over a plot area of forty-six acres, against the majestic Zabarwan mountains. The garden is covered with beaming flower beds and has a gleaming water stream flowing right through its center. Along with this, the ever-soothing Dal lake and the snow- capped Pir Panjal Mountain range in sight, which gives you a glimpse into heaven! Truely, it is the ‘Garden of Joy.'
The terraced Mughal Garden, Nishat Bagh was designed and built by Asaf Khan, elder brother of Nur Jehan, in 1633. The magnificence of this garden is highlighted by an ancient anecdote. When Shah Jahan saw the Nishat Garden after its completion in 1633, he was awe-struck and highly appreciated the ratauri beauty of the garden. It is believed that he expressed his admiration for the garden, thrice to Asaf Khan, in the hope that he would offer the garden as a gift to him; however, that did not happen. Vexed and avenged with Asaf Khan’s reaction, Shah Jahan ordered to cut off the water supply to the Bagh. The Bagh remained deserted and was ripped off, of its grandeur; while Asaf Khan was disappointed. Until a day when one of Asaf Khan’s servants restored the water supply from The Shalimar Bagh stream. Fearing the Emperor’s reaction to this act of disobedience, Asaf Khan immediately ordered a closure of the water supply. Contrary to what was expected, Shah Jahan, bestowed a robe of honor upon the servant for his devoted service and granted Asaf Khan a ‘sanad,' which gave him the right to draw water from the Shalimar stream for his garden.
The layout of the garden is unique; it is an adaption of the Chahar Bagh style. However, it was remodeled to suit the topographical and water supply conditions of the area. The Chahar Bagh (four gardens) style, is one amongst the six primary styles of the Persian garden. Its basic structure is inspired by the Quranic description of Heaven having four rivers of wine, honey, milk, and water. Thus, the Chahar Bagh is uniformly shaped with four streams, which distribute the garden into four equal sections and a central reservoir as the water source. However, this traditional design was altered, as the source of water at Nishat Bagh is at the highest point of the garden rather than at the center. Therefore, an axial stream flow design was adopted along with a rectangular layout with a length of 544 meters and width of 338 meters. it's eastern side is elevated, while its western side touches the edge of the Dal Lake.
The Mughal Emperors did not commission Nishat Bagh, and therefore is not considered to be an imperial garden. This makes its architecture significantly less hierarchical than most Mughal gardens. It incorporates only two sections, one is the public garden, and the other one is the private garden for harems (women), vis-à-vis the four sections of Shalimar Bagh. Along with these two sections, The Bagh consists of twelve terraces, each symbolic of a zodiac sign. Commencing at the edge of the Dal Lake, the stretch of terraces goes up to the zenana gardens, where the twelfth terrace is located. In the recent years, the lowest terrace has merged with the approaching road. These descending terraces lined up with chinar and cypress trees; blazing with the color of roses, lilies, geraniums, asters, and zinnias, are simply breath-taking!
What adds on to the aesthetics of this place is the central water stream that flows through the terraces adorned with fountains. The stream is four meters wide and twenty centimeters deep; it glistens as it flows over the stone ramps engraved with wave patterns(chadars).
Srinagar is well connected to most parts of the country through airways, railways, and road. Once you’ve reached the city center, Nishat Bagh is merely 11 kilometers away.
April- October is the best time to visit as a moderately pleasant weather prevails over the city, apt for spending quality time with your loved ones!
Though the Bagh is enthralling at all times, yet, the autumn season has something special to offer. With the poplars and chinars in gold and red respectively, brightening up the garden, against the dark blue rocky background- It’s a visual treat indeed!
The garden is usually open from 9 am to 7 pm, on all days except Friday.
*Please do not pluck or touch the flowers over there, just admire the splendid beauty that Nishat Garden beholds.
Rupees 10 per person.
Char Chinar(3 kilometers): A lovely island on the Dal lake which is home to some ancient Chinar trees.
Indra Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden(3.2 kilometers): The largest Tulip garden in Asia spread over 30 hectares
Hazratbal Shrine(3.5 kilometers): A Muslim shrine located on the banks of Dal Lake
Shalimar Bagh Srinagar - Read more about the garden here.
All in all a trip to Nishat Bagh would be nothing less than magical! It sure is the perfect place to be if you are a photographer and an admirer of nature’s beauty! Visiting the garden during the early hours of the day is incredibly peaceful and revitalizing.
Hope you visit soon and share your experiences with us!
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