A physical manifestation of beauty, the Mughal garden of Chasme Shahi is one of those places you don’t want to miss on your Srinagar tour. Centuries ago, the heavenly site had enraptured the then Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, enthralling him with its charms. For years the Emperor was dedicated to maneuver, caress and nurture the raw beauty that had mesmerized him. The result? A grand embodiment that holds the eye captive and makes one lose track of time. Don’t blame us if you get lost in its spell; this one is truly an aesthete's paradise.
The name Chashme Shahi literally translates to The Royal Spring, a legit call that would eventually become its identity and even centuries hence, continue to draw people to its gates. The main attraction of the place is the garden that was built around several natural springs, encompassing their waters to ornament it. Delving a little deeper into the garden’s history, it is interesting to note that the springs were discovered by a revered female saint Rupa Bhawani, also known as Sahibi. Shah Jahan had initially named the garden Chashme Sahibi, to honor the saint. The garden itself was not built by the emperor but by the Mughal Governor Ali Mardan Khan, who had laid its foundation in 1632, for the Mughal emperor’s eldest son, Dara Sikoh.
The garden boasts of several terraced lawns, fascinating fountains and flower beds, against the surrounding Zabarkan range, to excite the nature-lover in you. It, therefore, does not come as an astonishment that the garden was among the favorites of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The place resounds with some Nehru anecdotes only adding to its popularity.
Chashme Shahi is a literal example of the Persian influence on the Kashmiri art, an epitome that has pleased both historians and travelers for decades. Walking along its study walls, one can actually see the two cultures intermingling and creating magic. You might get stunned to know that with an area measuring 108 meters in length and 38 meters in width, this Eden on earth is the smallest of the three Mughal gardens; the other two being the Shalimar garden and the Nishat garden.
Despite the years, the garden stands still like a mighty witness of time, inspiring people with its magnificence. It is an absolute charm to watch the fresh cold water from the springs burbling down the central aisle and breathing into the gorgeous fountains and waterfalls, after flowing through multiple terraces and pathways. One can approach the origin of the spring through a flight of stairs starting from the first terrace. Once here, don’t forget to take off your shoes and dip your feet into the shallow pool on the second terrace.
The garden, with its glassy fountains, pristine man made waterfalls, and a lush green garden blooming with a myriad of colors makes for a picturesque fairyland. Needless to say, you are going to spend a lot of time testing your photography skills to capture every little detail. The place is lined by verdant forests and with the Zabarkan mountain range lying just 5 km away, be ready to witness an opulent backdrop that only adds to the garden’s beauty.
When planning a visit, make sure you time it during the summers when the flowers are in their full bloom, giving an exotic scent to the garden. The flower beds here are lined with some rare varieties like the purple colored rose, poplin, gardenia, and poppy. The visual treat is quite enticing, prohibited though the to-prohibited from touching or plucking flowers in order to maintain the beauty of the place.
If you get thirsty from all the exploring, get a taste of the spring water Chashme Shahi has to offer. It is said that the bubbling, cold water comes directly from the spring and is endowed with several minerals that impart to it its characteristic sweet taste. Also, remember to watch out for the light and dance shows that the authorities organize here on a regular basis. Relish the flavor of the rich Kashmiri culture through folklore and music if you get lucky and get a chance to witness it. It is an amazing experience to sit on the soft green grass here and soak in the fresh air. Well, you might need a picnic hamper!
The Chashme Shahi is located in Srinagar main city and is just 14 kilometers or a twenty-minute car-ride away from the Srinagar Airport. Being a prominent tourist hotspot, that happens to lie adjacent to Rajbhavan, the place is well connected and easily accessible through public transport as well. The Brien market bus station is just 3.2 km away from Chashme Shahi. Also, one can find some great lodging and dining options in its vicinity or on the Boulevard road that lies close to the place.
The garden remains open between March to November, however, the best time to visit the garden is from April to October when the garden is decked with colorful flowers in their prime. But for Friday, the garden remains open on all days.
Timings: 09:00 am – 06:00 pm
The entrance fee charged for adults is Rs.10 and for children is Rs.5.