The Garden Guide

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

Shahdara Mughal Garden Lahore

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Nur-Jahans Garden of Delight, now called Shah-Dara, lies across the Ravi, five miles north of Lahore. The road from the city runs past the fort and Aurungzebs huge Badshahi Masjid (Imperial Mosque)-the only great mosque in India with a garden courtyard,-and on through a dense cool woodland, out to where the picturesque bridge of boats spans the wide sandy bed of the river. On the far side scattered plantations and groups of wild palms mark the sites of many ruined pleasure-grounds between the water and the high walls of the old royal garden. It was here in the Dilkusha Bagh that Jahangir was buried, in spite of his dying request to be taken back to Verinag, the favourite Kashmir spring where he and Nur-Jahan had spent so many happy summers. The gardens are entered, like those of the Taj, through a serai courtyard. This in itself is a very fine building, a great square with high gateways and a series of arched alcoves opening on to a wide terrace running all round the walls. These recesses formed convenient quarters for the guards and numerous servants when the Court paid a passing visit to the gardens; and at other times afforded a halting-place for wayfarers and pilgrims from the north arriving after the city gates across the river had been closed. The tomb itself stands in the centre of the second enclosure. Its model was that of Itimad-ud-Daulah at Agra, but it is on an immense scale, and the dome was either never completed, or else has been since destroyed. The garden is a very large one, in plan much resembling that of Sikandarah. A series of raised fountain-tanks form eight large chabutras encircling the mausoleum. The canals, though still narrow, are wider than the tiny threads of water set in the broad masonry paths at Sikandarah, or those of Humayuns tomb, and are bordered by long parterres lately replanted with cypress trees and flowers. On fete days, when the fountains are playing, the view through the great doorway of the serai- a building fifty feet high-is very fine, and will be still further enhanced when the cypress trees have grown taller. Climbing plants are well established, and wreath the walls and alcoves with graceful garlands; but the garden itself and the fine court of the serai have the usual bare look, and the avenues that bordered the wide paths and the groves of trees on the grass plots which once shaded the road-weary pilgrims have gone.