The Garden Guide

Book: C.M Villiers Stuart Gardens of the Great Mughals
Chapter: Chapter 6 Gardens of the Plains Lahore

Chauburji Mosque Lahore

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Zebanissa Begam, Aurungzebs daughter, a poetess and artist, was not behind the other royal ladies of her family in her garden building, as the Chau-Burji (Four Towers) proves. It is only a gateway covered all over with turquoise, amber, and azure tiles. Only three of its four tall minarets are left. Fields stretch behind it, a dusty high-road runs in front, but still one wonders how even a Princess could give away a garden which had such a gate. But the Begam did so, for she bestowed it on one of her friends and planned a second garden for herself at Nawan Kot, not far away. Here she was buried, and, artist to the last, by her special orders the minarets of her mausoleum were built and carved to represent four slender marble palms. Leaving Lahore for the north, the train, crossing the Ravi, rushes by a brown dismantled building standing in the bare open fields close by the line. There lies Nur-Jahan Begam, the greatest garden lover of them all. One would rather think of her as resting by some Kashmir spring, planning out fresh rose terraces and tulip fields, or alighting at some garden gateway in the plains, like the lady in the Mughal miniature illustrated here. This may indeed be a painting of her, for Nur-Jahan was noted among other tilings for her horsemanship and long black hair. The turban, too, is arranged in a way similar to that shown in one of her few authentic portraits. The jewels, about which we may be sure she was particular-probably the only detail the artist was allowed to see-are identical in both pictures. So perhaps it is the Empress herself whom the two attendants welcome with the tiny bunch of sweet-scented flowers. Which of all her gardens was it, one wonders, through whose half-opened gate we catch a glimpse of the dainty white-starred flowering tree ?