The Garden Guide

Book: C.M Villiers Stuart Gardens of the Great Mughals
Chapter: Chapter 3 The Gardens of the Taj Mahal

Jahangir on Mughal planting design

Previous - Next

In speaking of gardens Jahangir refers to those of the nobles of his Court, remains of which can still be seen on the bank of the Jumna at Agra. He stayed, he tells us, in the Dil Amiz Garden at Lahore. He specially remarks on the gardens of Kabul; the City Adorning Garden, with a stream eight feet wide running down its centre, which he and his courtiers tried to jump but failed. He says on this day he walked round seven of the famous gardens of Kabul, and adds, 'I do not think I ever walked so far before. 'First of all I walked round the City Adorning, then the Moonlight Garden, then the garden that Bika Begam, grandmother of my father, had made, then passed through the Middle Garden, then a garden that Maryam-makani, my own grandmother, had prepared, then the Surat-khana garden, which has a large chenar tree, the like of which there is not in the other gardens of Kabul. Then having seen the Char-Bagh, which is the largest of the City gardens, I returned to my own abode. There were abundance of cherries on the trees, each of which looked as it were a round ruby hanging like globes on the branches. The Shahr-ara Bagh was made by Shahr-Banu Begam, daughter of Mirza Abu Said, who was own aunt to the late king Babar. From time to time it has been added to, and there is not a garden like it for sweetness in Kabul. It has all sorts of fruits and grapes and its softness is such that to put one's sandalled feet on it would be far from propriety or good manners. In the neighbourhood of this garden an excellent plot of land came to view which I ordered to be bought from the owners. I ordered a stream that flows from the Guzargah to be diverted into the middle of the ground so that a garden might be made such that in beauty and sweetness there should not be in the inhabited world another like it. I gave it the name of 'World Adorning.' Whilst I was at Kabul I had several entertainments in the City Adorning Garden, sometimes with my intimates and courtiers, sometimes with the ladies of the harem.' On his visits to various towns the Emperor Jahangir speaks of having planned and built several other gardens. He saw one garden with one hundred mango trees and a huge banyan in it which especially called for remark. On another occasion he had a 'nice feast' in the Nagina Bagh, 'where a pergola of grapes had ripened.' At Ahmedabad he went to a little garden 'which had exceedingly good figs,' and while there he visited the Fath Bagh (Garden of Victory) and contemplated the red roses. 'The plot,' he said, 'had bloomed well, it was pleasant to see so many there owing to their scarcity in India.' 'The anemone bed, too, was not bad, and the figs had ripened.' In yet another garden at Ahmedabad he particularises 'orange, lemon, peach, pomegranate, and apple trees, and among flowering shrubs every kind of rose.' Flowering shrubs and some roses still adorn the Taj gardens; but where are the fruit trees ? The orange, pomegranate, and lemon ? Groves of these should certainly be again planted here, for quite apart from their great decorative value, they formed a special feature of the original design and pious intentions of the founder of this Paradise Orchard. Undoubtedly the different squares of the garden were largely planted with fruit trees, while, to relieve the monotony, the corners marked A B C D on the plan were most probably treated as parterres.