The Garden Guide

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

Neglect of Shalimar Bagh in Lahore

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The Shalimar has suffered like all its fellows. These large enclosures have been so often the camping-ground of marauding armies, while subsequent neglect and change of taste have frequently swept away the few remaining characteristics within their walls. But in spite of evil times and changes something of the old enchantment lingers round the great pool set in the mango grove, the one open square of light in all this dim green garden at Lahore. Shut in on three sides by a dense woodland, against which the small white pavilions stand out in sharp, relief, the fourth side bounded by the walls of the upper terrace, the large tank lies deserted, tranquil in the quiet evening air; rich, peaceful harmonies of pale green water reflecting deep green trees, rose-red walls, and the darker rose of amaranth in the parterres. In the shadows of the old zenana terrace, the once clear rippling water-ways are muddy now and choked with plants. The hundred little fountains play fitfully: a faint grey spray scarcely seen against the background of the dark glistening mango leaves. But as the sun sinks, and the afterglow steals through the close-set tree trunks, and streams down the opening of the west canal, where the dark battlements lose their shape, blurred against the roseate, dust-laden rays, a brief dream of former splendours gilds the platforms and the pathways, the water and the wood. And melancholy, ghost-haunted as it is, still one leaves it with regret-this old garden-palace full of echoes.