Sunday, 24 May 2015

Mughals' Gardens in Srinagar & Tulips

Four Mughal Emperor gardens situated on the lower slopes of the Himalayan foothills, Kashmir
Shalimar was built by Emperor Jahangir for his wife Nur Jahan in 1619 - it is considered a high point in Mughal horticulture

A garden of waterways, fountains and marble pavilions with a Himalayan snow capped backdrop 
Nishat is a terraced garden built in 1633 by ruler Asif Khan with descending water courses running down to Dal Lake. The garden originally had 12 water terraces representing 12 zodiacal signs in keeping with the concepts of a Persian garden. Due to road building around Dal Lake the garden has now lost 3 of its original water terraces.
This garden with its wonderful water cascades enjoys  the Zabarwan Mountains as a backdrop
and views down to Dal Lake
Two million tulips adorn the Kashmiri landscape at an altitude of 5600 feet for two weeks each April - Asia's largest tulip festival
Chashma Shahi is the smallest of the Mughal gardens and was commissioned by Emperor Shah Jahan for his eldest son, Dara Sikoh. If you have read my other posts you may recall that Shah Jahan was the Emperor who built the Taj Mahal, and was detained by one of his sons in the Red Fort at Agra
This garden is higher up in the Zabarwan Mountains
This little pavilion sits over a spring which supplies all of the water to the garden and is the source of its name - Chashma Shahi translates as Royal Spring
Pari Mahal meaning 'Fairies Abode' is the highest mountain garden with terraces and magnificent views. It was commissioned by the Emperor's eldest son Dara Sikoh in 1650, the owner of the previous garden. He followed the Qadiri order of Sufi Islam and had this garden made for his tutor who used it as an observatory for teaching astronomy.
Being so high up on the slopes of the Zabarwan Mountains my little camera could not cope with the views across Dal Lake to the snowcapped Himalayas - I definitely need a new camera
I took few photographs in this garden as I was waylaid by this lovely lady and her family.  We spent time talking, and ended up photographing each other.
It is in this garden that I finally discovered the story surrounding Emperor Shah Jahan's detention by his son at the Red Fort in Agra.
The Emperor's eldest son, Dara Sikoh, was an intellectual who patronised the fine arts, music and dancing. He was seen as a heretic in the eyes of his younger orthodox brother Aurangzeb who detained his father, the Emperor Shah Jahan, in the Red Fort. Aurangzeb had his brother Dara murdered leaving the way clear for him to ascend the throne following his father's death.  It is now widely acknowledged that Aurangzeb was responsible for the eventual downfall of the Mughal Empire.
It is time to shut the door on India, not completely, I'm leaving it ajar in case I return one day! I do regret that I did not purchase myself one of the exquisite handwoven Kashmir shawls. Given another opportunity, a shawl will definitely return home with me! 
I have just been reading The Kashmir Shawl which features Dal Lake, Srinagar, and a houseboat similar to the one we stayed on - it is a good read  
Since writing this post I have treated myself to a new camera 

44 comments:

  1. What a beautiful place Rosemary. You have captured it so well.
    So many tulips, the snow capped mountains, beautiful blooms...

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    1. Dear Margaret - I think perhaps we were fortunate to be there just as the blossom was opening - the tulips were a bonus to see.

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  2. Dear Rosemary, How lucky we are, your readers, to be part of your fantastic trip to India. So much beauty and so much turmoil is written in every photograph.

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    1. Dear Gina - I would love to return to India - it far exceeded our expectations.

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  3. Hello Rosemary, It seems odd seeing those straight beds of tulips in such an exotic locale, even if it is part of their natural range. I think that even without the shawl, you have distilled the essence of India on your trip. I love the feeling these gardens have of floating on top of the world.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - I like your description that the Mughal gardens are floating on top of the world - it was certainly a different experience seeing tulips with a mountainous backdrop as I am so used to viewing very flat expansive fields of tulips in Holland

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  4. Dear Rosemary, thank you for featuring these Indian Gardens. Honestly up to now I haven't seen any in the garden blogs that I usually read. They are gorgeous and the surrounding mountains is simply breathtaking. I wonder which parts of the design are original though, because for example I wouldn't expect what looks like a formal rose garden in an Indian garden from that time period. Also the tulip fields are interesting. They could be planted in Holland!
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Dear Christina - As far as I know these gardens have been restored in accordance with their original design using expert advice on the restoration of historic landscapes. All of these gardens have been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. The Mughal emperors were greatly influenced by the Persians in their use of water cascades, rills, and fountains etc.

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  5. Rosemary, you really were in paradise. The mountain backdrop to that first garden is just awesome.

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    1. There is something magical about snow capped mountains framed by blossom.

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  6. Wonderful gardens and so beautifully kept - the pictures are stunning.

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    1. There were little signs saying 'please don't pick the blooms' but the gardeners (elderly men) kept picking flowers and bringing them to us!!!

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  7. The four Mughal gardens are wonderful to see, Rosemary. Thank you for sharing this beautiful part of your trip. I think picture no. 2 is absolutely exquisite. The lady and her son look so attractive and colourful!

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    1. That is the end of our journey Patricia - I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing these beautiful gardens.

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  8. I´m impressed by all the beauty you have seen, the photos are heavenly. So interesting to see gardens of the Mughals. I have a very old book: Gardens of The Great Mughals by G.M.Villiers Stuart. Reading this post, I took my book and will reread it again.

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    1. Kashmir is called heaven on earth and I understand now why that is so.
      Delighted that this post has encouraged you to re-read Gardens of The Great Mughals.
      I have just looked it up on Amazon, and it is quite a rare collectable book that you have.

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  9. It's wonderful, it used to be called armchair travel; now I sit in front of a computer screen and scenes from other countries appear before my eyes. Trees in blossom, snow-capped, distant mountains, fields of flowers and the small boy wearing the red shirt.

    Thank you, thank you.
    Ms Soup

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    1. I am pleased that you enjoyed your blogosphere trip Ms Soup - that little boy was so sweet.

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  10. I had never thought of Indian gardens - which is silly of me because the countryside is so beautiful. What a marvellous trip you had. I specially like that little pavilion.

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    1. The trip included so many different elements all of which we enjoyed immensely.

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  11. Oh so beautiful!!!!! Gosh you must have been overwhelmed seeing so many beautiful things! It really is all stunning!!! Thank you so much for sharing it all with us!!! xx

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    1. As it turned out I think that we were perhaps fortunate to be in Kashmir at blossom time especially with the snow still on the mountains.

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  12. So many wonderful memories remain with you, your eyes must be filled with India! Marvelous gardens shown here, and such an interesting story.

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    1. Thank you Jane - I really appreciate your kind comments - glad that you enjoyed seeing these Kashmiri gardens.

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  13. All just so, so beautiful! And your photos, as always, are great.

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    1. It is a very beautiful part of the world Debra - thank you for visiting

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  14. Each Mughal Emperor Garden is so beautiful with its own charms but my favorite is Pari Mahal. The garden on such high ground with the view of snowcapped Himalayas beyond the lake is fascinating. As a reader, your travelogue to India is the most interesting to me. I bet you’ll return India someday soon.

    Regarding your comment on my post, the flowers of the 5th photo look like Ranunculus but actually are Poppies, the same with the ones in the 16th.

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko - having only scratched the surface of India, it is a place that I would like to return to one day.
      Thank you for letting me know that the flowers were poppies, their colours are lovely.

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  15. Oh so many beautiful pictures from your travel, love every place...magic and beautiful everywhere!
    Have a great week Rosemary,
    Titti

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    1. They call it paradise on earth, and now I know why - hope the sun is shinning for you on Öland Titti

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  16. Hello dear Rosemary!!
    Your trip was very intersting indeed!
    What a lovely place!!!It looks like paradise!
    Gorgeous pictures!!Thank you for sharing!
    Dimi...

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    1. Looking back I can't believe how much we saw during the time we were in India - it was a memorable trip

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  17. India has so much to offer, those gardens are so lovely and the water features incredible. I'm so glad you enjoyed the book! Sarah x

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    1. Loved the book Sarah but it made me wish that I had purchased a shawl. I was able to relive so many moments whilst I was reading it. When Mair opens the black and white photo from her brother showing a background of water covered with lily pads with the upper left-hand corner cut off by carved woodwork which she thought was a balcony, I knew that it was just the same as the houseboat we stayed in on Dal Lake.

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  18. Dear Rosemary,

    My favorite of these gardens is the one with the terraced pools of water. I imagine that it must have a very meditative quality, especially with the sound of so many fountains. I don't know if Aurangzeb would have believed in karma, but he certainly seems to have been the recipient of it.

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    1. Dear Mark - it is difficult for me to decide which garden I like best, but it is probably the first because of the initial impact that it made on me with the snow covered mountain backdrop and the newly opened blossom.
      Having read a little about Aurangzeb I have discovered that he was extremely ruthless, and was responsible for destroying many of India's wonderful temples. He ruled for half a century and left behind a crumbling empire, a corrupt and inefficient administration, a demoralised army, and a discredited government facing public bankruptcy and alienated subjects.

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  19. This is so beautiful! Love the blossoming trees and the tulips of course. Such a surprise to find a garden like that in India.

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    1. I was hoping that we would see the tulips as I saw that Kashmir grew them before we left on the internet.

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  20. Such wonderful gardens, a joy to read your posts.

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    1. Thank you for your very kind comment.

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  21. What a treat it was to look through this and some of your last travel posts. I don't know enough about this area of the world. How strange (to me) and beautiful it is.

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    1. India was new to me but it is a country that has captured my interest. Thank you - I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing this beautiful area.

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  22. A gardener's paradise. You must have loved these glorious gardens in their incomparable setting, Rosemary.

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    1. I think that we were fortunate to be there whilst the mountains were still covered in snow showing off the fresh blossoms in the valley

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