The Garden Guide

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

Indian garden fountains

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In Europe, when speaking of fountains, the actual sculpture and stone-work are, as a rule, intended and understood, whereas in India the term implies the water-jet itself; although this was often a mere jet and not, as with us in colder countries, a great volume of water gushing from sculptured vases, leaping in some chosen place high up into the air for the pure joy of its decorative effect, or pouring from moss-grown shells emptied by water nymphs into pools where tritons blow their horns. In an Indian garden there is water everywhere, hundreds of little pearl-showering fountain jets cooling the burning air, their only stone-work copied from the lotus lily buds as they rise above the stream. All the older fountains in the large tanks and canals are variations of this theme. The form of the fully-opened flower seems to have suggested the shape and carving of the small tanks and chabutra fountains-which were differently treated, the water rising from within large shallow basins set below the level of the surrounding masonry. On the east wall of the Shalimar Bagh, facing the central tank, are the royal bathrooms, and the four canals of the upper terrace each lead to a large pavilion; so that the gardens were fully equipped for a royal residence whenever the Emperor chose to visit Lahore. Within comparatively recent times the Sikh ruler Sher Singh held his Court in the largest of these buildings. His audience room can still be seen. It opens into a small garden square outside the main walls.