Shalimar Bagh, the pinnacle of the Mughal horticulture in Kashmir, is 15 kms from the Srinagar city centre located majestically on the right bank of Dal Lake. The garden with sweeping vistas and artfully laid out terraces was built by Mughal emperor Jehangir for his wife Nur Jehan in 1619. Measuring 587 m by 251 m, Shalimar garden has four terraces, one above the other. Like equally famous Nishat Bagh, a canal lined with polished stones runs through the middle of the garden, consigning it a mesmerizing beauty.</p><p> Zafar Khan, the governor of Kashmir during Shah Jahan’s reign, extended Shalimar Bagh and named it Faiz Baksh or the bountiful. Electrification of the premises was done during Hari Singh’s rule. So, the garden was extended and improved by many rulers and called by different names, however, Shalimar Bagh remained in vogue till date.
This garden is the largest Mughal garden in Kashmir and Shalimar Bagh was Jehangir’s imperial summer residence and the Royal Court for 13 years. The garden is well known for Chini Khanas, or arched niches, behind garden waterfalls. These niches were lighted at night with oil lamps, giving a fairy tale appearance to the water falls. However, now the niches hold flower pots that reflect their colours behind the cascading water.
Shalimar Bagh was well maintained by all the rulers of Kashmir and continues to be so even now for being one of the prominent tourist attractions around the Dal Lake. The garden presents a beautiful spectacle during the autumn when the colour of the leaves of the famed Chinar trees turns red. With lush green Zabarwan in its background, the redness of the Chinars mesmerize one and all who happen to cast t heir eyes on the scene. The garden was the inspiration for other gardens of the same name, notably the Shalimar Bagh in Delhi (built in 1653) and Shalimar Gardens in Lahore, Pakistan built by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1641.