The Garden Guide

Book: C.M Villiers Stuart Gardens of the Great Mughals
Chapter: Chapter 5 Gardens of the Plains - Delhi

Shalimar Bagh Delhi

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The few Mughal baghs which survive in British India are invariably those built, or chosen, as the last resting-place of some prince or noble; respect for a tomb seems to have been the only protection for its garden. Lacking this safeguard, gardens like the once glorious Shalimar Bagh at Delhi are now completely ruined. This last famous royal pleasance-mentioned by many old travellers, but hardly even known to the present inhabitants of the city-was built in imitation of the Kashmir royal gardens and the Shalimar Bagh at Lahore, by one of Shah Jahans wives, Aazzu-n-Nissa, known as Bibi Akbarabadi, after whom the place was named Azzabad. A contemporary historian, Muhammad Salih, gives the following account of the gardens in the Shah-Jahan-Nama: 'This favourite bagh with its lofty buildings was made square three hundred by three hundred yards. The ground of its two upper terraces which is nearly nine feet above the level of the lower terrace has pleasant buildings. In the true centre of each terrace which is three hundred yards long, a canal, twenty feet broad, flows. The water of this canal runs in and round each building in the breadth of five and a half feet more or less in some places according to its dimensions, and falls in reservoirs in the shape of a cascade. The large tanks, rows of pearl-showering fountains, and domed buildings are similar to those in both the large gardens of Lahore and Kashmir; except a reservoir, in the second terrace twenty yards long and about eighteen broad with marvellously adorned halls on its four sides and pavilions on its two sides, similar to the tank of Machchi Bhawan; and except another octagonal reservoir, with a diameter of thirty-five yards and each of its sides fifteen yards with twenty-one fountains an exact imitation of the spring of Shahabad (Verinag), the water of which flowing through the third terrace, discharges into a tank two hundred and forty-five yards long and one hundred and sixty yards broad constructed outside the garden. In short, it was finished in the course of four years, at a cost of two lakhs of rupees.'