Shalimar Bagh is the largest of all the Mughal gardens in Srinagar. Shalimar Bagh is around 16 km from Srinagar. It was built in 1619 by Mughal Emperor Jahangir to please his wife Nur Jahan. He fondly called the garden ‘Farah Baksh’ which means ‘the delightful’. The Emperor and his wife’s fondness for Kashmir is no secret. They visited the Kashmir valley at least 13 times. In his dying bed, Jahangir is believed to have expressed his dying wish. He reportedly said, ‘Kashmir, the rest is worthless.’
Subsequently, the garden has changed hands and been renamed many times but the name Shalimar Bagh remains the most popular. The garden designed in Persian style has been altered very little in the past 400 years or so. The garden covers 12.4 hectares in size and can be divided into three terraces.
The garden gate opens to the first terrace and the Diwan-e-Aam, a small building with waterfall falling into a pool. The second terrace has the Diwan-e-Khas. A water canal flows down the middle from the top end of the garden towards the entrance and into the Dal Lake. But during my visit, ongoing restoration work had barred water from running in the canal except for the first terrace. But nevertheless, the scene at the only water fed pool was magnificant. People young and old came out to have fun and they are not afraid to get soaked or even take a dip in the pool. The gardens in Srinagar have this jovial atmosphere about them.
Shalimar Bagh also has the highest number of Chinar trees among all Mughal gardens. The second terrace garden has a beautiful Chinar-lined road. The uppermost terrace was once reserved for the royal ladies. The garden is surrounded by walls and villagers live around it.
The garden has a beautiful restaurant and visitors can also have their photos taken, dressed in traditional Kashmiri attires. It can be best summed up in the words of Persian poet Amir Khusrau who said, ‘”If there is a paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this.’ Though I’ve not heard about this saying when I visited the garden then, I had paradise on my mind. Paradise to me is a word we used when we are encompassed with beauty; when we’ve no words to express the emotions that we experience.
Entry Fee: Rs.10