The Garden Guide

Book: C.M Villiers Stuart Gardens of the Great Mughals
Chapter: Chapter 8 Summer gardens of Kashmir

Verinag Bagh - Vernag Garden

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The previous autumn I had tried to reach the gardens [Vernag Garden] and failed; but on my second visit to Kashmir the journey was accomplished, and I and some friends arrived there at last. Camped under the chenars of the ruined garden, where the pine forest runs down a steep limestone spur to the tank in which the spring rises, it is easy to understand the romantic charm of Verinag (the secret spring, the supposed source of the Jhelum, 'the snake recoiled,' as the literal translation runs) and the spell which held Jahangir and Nur-Mahal in their palace by the bright blue-green pool, where the largest of the sacred carp bore the Queens inscriptions on gold rings placed through their gills. On the cold mountain pass above, Jahangir died; leaving a last request that he might be brought back and buried by the spring. But as we have seen, his wishes were set aside;-the courtiers no doubt were frightened by the approach of winter, and the danger of the passes being closed; and the Court continued their journey southwards, carrying the dead Emperor down to Lahore. The octagonal tank built round the spring is designed to form the centre of the palace buildings. No omrahs house at Delhi was complete without its fountain court, and the same idea is carried out on the grandest scale for the Emperors palace at Verinag. Round the reservoir there are twenty-four arched recesses still roofed over, some containing small stairways which led to the rooms above; and the few carved stones of the cornice that are left show how fine the building must have been. The current rushes out through the large arched crypt on the north side, flowing under the chief facade of the house. The stream, flashing through the gloom, lights up the dark arches with a flickering green magic like a mermaids cave, beyond which lies the serene upper world of the sunlit water-court.