The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 5: Gardens in Asia, America, Africa, Australia

Shalimar Bagh Garden Delhi

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748. The gardens of Kalimar, near Delhi, which were made in the beginning of the seventeenth century by the Emperor Shah Jehan, are said to have cost 1,000,000� sterling, and were about a mile in circumference. They were surrounded by a high brick wall; but the whole are now in ruins. (Edin. Encyc., art. India, p. 87.) 'The palace of Delhi,' says Bishop Heber, 'formerly celebrated for the splendour and richness of its architecture, though still inhabited by the 'King of Kings' (the Emperor Akbar Shah), is now in a ruinous state; not from absolute poverty, but because its inhabitants have no idea of cleaning or mending any thing. The gardens,' he continues, 'are not large, but, in their way, must have been extremely rich and beautiful. They are full of very old orange and other fruit trees, with terraces and parterres, on which many rose-bushes and jonquils were growing. A channel of white marble for water, with little fountain pipes of the same material, carved like roses, is carried here and there, among these parterres, and at the end of the terrace is a beautiful octagonal pavilion, also of marble, lined with mosaic flowers, with a marble fountain in its centre, and a beautiful bath in a recess on one of its sides. The windows of this pavilion, which is raised to the height of the city wall, command a good view of Delhi and its neighbourhood. But all was, when we saw it, dirty, lonely, and wretched: the bath and fountain were dry ; the inlaid pavement was hid with lumber and gardeners' sweepings, and the walls were stained with the dung of birds and bats. How little did Shah Jehan, the founder of these fine buildings, foresee what would be the fate of his descendants, or what his own would be ! 'Vanity of vanities !' was surely never written in more legible characters than on the dilapidated arcades of Delhi.' (Trav. in Ind., p. 562.)