The Garden Guide

Book: C.M Villiers Stuart Gardens of the Great Mughals
Chapter: Chapter 9 Pinjor - An Indian country house and its garden

Fadai Khan garden designer

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It takes eighteen books to tell the epic of the Pandavas, so numerous are the interwoven tales. But where the brothers hid for the twelve years before their final victory is not revealed. Local tradition, however, fills in these intervening years, and tells how the five brothers first found the spring, and took refuge there during their banishment. Then after victory, and many years of empire, they renounced their worldly conquests, and undertook a pilgrimage to the sacred Himalayas. When passing through their ancient haunts at Pinjor, four of the brothers, worn out by wars and journeyings, settled there. Only the eldest brother, Yudisthara, travelled on towards the snows of holy Himalaya and Mount Meru. He won his way through at last, but scornfully refused to enter a Paradise from which his faithful dog, who had followed him, was barred. A gap of many years lies between this mythical history and a time so recent as the seventeenth century, when the great Mughal gardens were built at Pinjor. Their builder, the celebrated Fadai Khan, under whose direction the Imperial Mosque at Lahore was also constructed, was, it will be remembered, the foster-brother of the Emperor Aurungzeb, one of the few omrahs of the Mughal Court whom the crafty Emperor really favoured. He made Fadai the governor of this district, then as now noted for its forests full of game. Here the new governor evidently grasped the possibilities of the Pinjor spring, and, with the artistic instinct of his age, planned a great terraced garden, so situated as to embrace wide views over the lower woodlands to the plains beyond; a garden through which the spring might flow with the never-ending music of its waterfalls and fountains. Only the scorching summer of the dusty, burning plains can teach the joy and full possibilities of water. To Indians of every creed water is an almost sacred thing, and all springs are holy. Here in the Khans own province of Pinjor was water; not the muddy yellow of the great Punjab rivers, nor the still green slime of the city tanks, but clear bubbling springs, together with sloping ground, a moderate climate, and every opportunity for a great garden. It is easy to imagine Fadai Khans delight, and the haste with which he started planning his new country palace. But the neighbouring hill Rajas watched the work with dismay, for they dreaded the coming of the Mughal Court; and feared still more to lose the use of the precious water which irrigated the surrounding country. [Note: Nawab Fadai Khan was an architect and foster brother to the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb]