Shalimar Gardens

SimpleViewer requires JavaScript and the Flash Player. Get Flash.

The magnificent and famous Shalamar Gardens are located 8 kms to the north-east of Lahore in Pakistan on the Grand Trunk Road. Commissioned by the Emperor Shah Jahan in 1637, the gardens are known for their grandeur and exquisite landscaping.

In 1639 AD, Ali Mardan Khan, a Persian noble and governor of Lahore, sought the permission of Emperor Shah Jahan to build a canal from the River Ravi at Rajpur to Lahore. The request was granted, funds placed at his disposal, and within two years, the ‘Shah Nahar’, or royal canal was completed. Khalilullah Khan, another noble, was commissioned by the Emperor to build a garden on and the site he chose was the old bed of the River Ravi, which served to irrigate the new garden which was completed in 1642 AD. It is not known when ‘Shalamar’, or light of the moon’, was added to the name of the gardens.

The site of the Shalamar Gardens originally belonged to one of the noble Zaildar families in the region, the Mian Family Baghbanpura. The family was also given the Royal title of ‘Mian‘ by the Mughal Emperor for its services to the Empire. Mian Muhammad Yusuf, then the head of the Mian family, donated the site of Ishaq Pura to the Emperor Shah Jahan, after pressure was placed on the family by the royal engineers who wished to build on the site due to its good position and soil. In return, Shah Jahan granted the Mian family governance of the Shalamar Gardens. The gardens remained under the custodianship of this family for more than 350 years until they were nationalised by General Ayub Khan because leading Mian family members had opposed his imposition of martial law in Pakistan.

A typical Mughal garden, Shalamar is an octagonal parallelogram surrounded by a high wall with tooth-like battlements. The corners are occupied by ‘burj’ or towers, surmounted by a red sandstone octagonal pavilion. Originally, the gardens were entered through two elegant gateways in the eastern and western walls of the lower terrace. The enclosure is over 457 meters (500 yards) long, and contains 2 gardens, with a narrow rectangular terrace in between them. Each garden is divided by canals and flowerbeds, following the Persian tradition of the ‘charbagh’, or fourfold garden. Each of the three parts is on a different level, so that the upper parts are concealed from the view of people entering from below.

The upper terrace, the ‘Farah Bakhsh’ (bestower of pleasure), is nearly 15 feet higher than the middle terrace, the ‘Faiz Bakhsh’ (bestower of plenty) while the difference between here and the lower terrace, the ‘Hayat Bakhsh’  (bestower of goodness) is only five feet. The Farah Bakhsh, the most private garden because of its height, was thought to have been used by the imperial women. There are 410 fountains in total in the garden, spread over the three terraces, discharging water into wide, marble pools. Interspersed are numerous plants and trees, emitting sweet fragrances. There are several impressive buildings to be found in the gardens which include the ‘Aiwan’ or great hall, ‘Aramgarh’ or resting place, and the ‘Khawabagh’, the dream place of the emperor’s wife.

Despite The Shalamar Gardens being included as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1981, a lack of funds today means that the gardens do require some work to restore them to their former beauty.

 

Related posts:

  1. Ram Bagh The Summer Palace of Maharajah Ranjit Singh in Amritsar is...
  2. Tomb of Asaf Khan In the same complex as the mausoleum of the Mughal...
  3. Wazir Khan Mosque A walk through the old city of Lahore in Pakistan...
  4. Britain’s first Sikh Gurdwara – 79 Sinclair Road This site is a Georgian terrace in Shepherds Bush. Its...
  5. Britain’s first Gurdwara 79 Sinclair Road   This site is a Georgian terrace in Shepherds Bush....
This entry was posted in Mughal Sites, Outdoor Activities, Pak>Lahore and surrounding areas and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply