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Pari Mahal or the abode of fairies sits majestically upon the slopes of Zabarwan mountain range west of Chashma Shahi, around 13.2Km from the Srinagar city centre. It is a garden palace and its construction in mid- 1600s is ascribed to Dara Shikoh, the son of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, who used to study astrology and astronomy here. Prince Dara had a great interest in mysticism and he got the garden built for his Sufi tutor, Mullah Shah Badakhshi. Like other gardens, it has attracted a huge number of tourists over the years for its mysterious yet tranquil ambience. However, unlike other Mughal gardens, it has no water cascades but used to have fountains fed through pipes the tanks made for that purpose.

Pari Mahal boasts of a unique architecture not found anywhere in the Valley of Kashmir and clearly depicts the immense patronage of art by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. It consists of six terraces aligned roughly north-south, with the uppermost point at its southern end and arched retaining walls supporting the terraces against the mountain. The garden measures 122 meters by 62.5 meters.

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Pari Mahal can be approached by a road that ends just at the main entrance of the garden. It is a ladder- shaped structure with six terraces. The terraces are accessed via sets of steps on their corners. Each flight of steps measures 6.7 m by 1.3 m. At the center of the sixth, or uppermost, terrace, a water tank with an arched wall is set against the mountain slope. From the sixth terrace, a baradari or pavilion overlooks the lower terraces. After remaining in a state of ruin for many years, the garden has been thrown open for the visitors after minor renovations. Visible from far away, the structure looks especially intriguing when flood lights are switched on at night. As it falls on way to other Mughal gardens, it is a must- visit place when you are in Srinagar.

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