The Garden Guide

Book: C.M Villiers Stuart Gardens of the Great Mughals
Chapter: Chapter 2 Gardens of the Plains - Agra

Babur Agra gardens

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'Shortly after coming to Agra, I passed the Jumna with this object in view, and examined the country, to pitch upon a fit spot for a garden. The whole was so ugly and detestable, that I repassed the river quite repulsed and disgusted. In consequence of the want of beauty and the disagreeable aspect of the country, I gave up my intention of making a char-bagh; but as no better situation presented itself near Agra, I was finally compelled to make the best of this same spot. First of all I began to sink the large well which supplies the baths with water; I next fell to work on the piece of ground on which are the ambli (Indian tamarind trees), and the octagonal tank; I then proceeded to form the large tank and its enclosure; and afterwards the tank and talar, or grand hall of audience, that are in front of the stone palace. I next finished the garden of the private apartments, and the apartments themselves, after which I completed the baths. In this way, going on, without neatness and without order, in the Hindu fashion, I, however, produced edifices and gardens which possessed considerable regularity. In every corner I planted suitable gardens; in every garden I sowed roses and narcissus regularly, and in beds corresponding to each other. We were annoyed with three things in Hindustan: one was its heat, another its strong winds, the third its dust. Baths were the means of removing all three inconveniences. In the bath we could not be affected by the winds. During the hot winds, the cold can there be rendered so intense, that a person often feels as if quite powerless from it. The room of the bath, in which is the tub or cistern, is finished wholly of stone. The water-run is of white stone: all the rest of it, its floor and roof, is of a red stone, which is the stone of Biana. Khalifeh, Sheikh Zin, Yunis Ali, and several others, who procured situations on the banks of the river, made regular and elegant gardens and tanks, and constructed wheels after the fashion of Lahore and Debalpur, by means of which they procured a supply of water. The men of Hind, who had never before seen places formed on such a plan, or laid out with so much elegance, gave the name of Kabul to the side of the Jumna on which these palaces were built.' [The Ram Bagh in Agra is identified as the site of Babur's garden]