The Garden Guide

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

Babur on making a charbagh

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Babar (Babur), after his final conquest of Northern India in the year 1526, fixed on his new capital at Agra, where one of his first concerns was the carrying out of the old Turki traditions in the building of an Imperial char-bagh (garden-palace, literally 'four gardens' see charbagh). At Agra, however, the flat character of the country afforded little scope for planning a fine garden, such as the great terraced enclosures of Samarkand or the Kabul Hills. The Hindus themselves, at that time, appear to have lost much of their earlier taste for gardening and the skill which characterised the Indian Buddhist monks, and to have done little more than plant groves of trees round the tanks constructed to catch the summer rains, making no effort to irrigate such gardens as existed. This lack of irrigation struck the new Emperor of India very forcibly, accustomed as he was to the elaborate care and skill with which the fields and gardens were watered in Persia and his own country of Ferghana. 'It always appears to me,' he writes, 'that one of the chief defects of Hindustan is the want of artificial watercourses. I had intended, wherever I might fix my residence, to construct water-wheels, to produce an artificial stream, and to lay out an elegant and regularly planned pleasure-ground.