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Nishat Bagh, Srinagar Overview

The Nishat Bagh in near Kashmir's Dal lake is a 12 terraced garden filled with endearing flowers and beautiful trees. It is the second largest Mughal garden in the Kashmir Valley after Shalimar Bagh. It has a splendid Mughal central water channel with several fountains, which is surrounded by tall Chinar trees. The Bagh was designed and built in 1633 by Asif Khan, who was the elder brother of Nur Jehan. With the Zabarwan Mountains as its backdrop, Nishat Bagh is a garden of bliss that overlooks the lake beneath the snow-covered Pir Panjal mountain range to the west of the valley. The garden is very photogenic and attracts a lot of young couples and families.

Even though the layout of Nishat Bagh was based on the design of the Persian gardens, the actual landscaping of the garden was done in accordance with the terrain and water patterns unique to Kashmir Valley. The garden is sprawled over a vast area that gently ascends as one moves towards the interior of the garden. A stream of standstill water divides the garden into two halves, and each level of the garden is marked by a raised embankment which has its collection of kaleidoscopic flowers waiting to be photographed. Lush green grass carpets the garden floor which is embellished with flowers of all conceivable colours and trees such as chinar, Cyprus and almond. You can catch a magnificent view of the Dal Lake as it looks over the sublime view of the Kashmir Valley. Today the Nishat garden is one of the historic and popular destinations of Srinagar valley.

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History of Nishat Bagh

The Nishat Bagh was designed and built in 1633 by Asif Khan, elder brother of Nur Jehan. The then emperor of Mughal India Shah Jahan was in Kashmir in 1633, when he visited this garden. He was so impressed by the heavenly beauty of the Nishat Garden that he had wanted the garden to be gifted to him by Asif Khan. When Asif Khan failed to do so, the water supply to the garden was stopped by the emperor. Distraught, Asif Khan was heartbroken and lost interest in everything else. One day, as he was sitting beneath a tree in the garden, one of his servants was bold enough to turn the water supply from Shalimar Bagh. When Khan got to know about this, he ordered for it to turned off immediately fearing Shah Jean's livid reaction to the breach of his orders. However, Jehan did not really get annoyed at the situation. Instead, he appreciated the servant for loyal service to his master and then ordered full restoration rights for the supply of water to the garden to Asif Khan. 

Architecture of Nishat Bagh

The Nishat Bagh as laid out now is a broad cascade of terraces lined with avenues of chinar and cypress trees, which starts from the lakeshore and reaches up to an artificial facade at the hill end. Rising from the edge of the Dal Lake, it has twelve 12 terraces representing twelve Zodiac signs. However, it has only two sections, namely the public garden and the private garden the Shalimar Bagh. 

The central canal of the Nishat garden runs four metres deep and adds a unique picturesque quality to the lake with its many fountains. The 12 terraces of the garden have very specific design attributes as well. The first terrace is a water pool which collects water while the second terrace has five fountains and can be accessed through a gate. Water to the fountains is supplied by the third terrace which finally drains to the first terrace. The third terrace itself has a very detailed design. The water chute has five arched openings and can be reached by the means of a stairway. Moving up the flight of four steps will lead you to the fourth terrace which has two levels namely, a water channel and a square pool. The fifth terrace can be accessed by a flight of seven stairs and has a bench for visitors to sit and enjoy the beautiful view. The sixth and seventh terrace have two levels with five water fountains. The eighth terrace is a water chute, while the ninth terrace has an octagonal bench overlooking a pool and nine fountains. 

The stairways to the tenth terrace are along the side retaining walls where only the water chute with fountains is provided. The eleventh terrace can be reached by travelling up a beautifully engraved pathway which has twenty-five fountains and a quaint pool. Finally, the twelve terrace, also called the Zanana Chamber marks the end of the terraces in Nishat Bagh. It is covered by a 5.5-metre high wall in the front which has a facade of blind arches. Two small octagonal towers on either side of the retaining walls provide views of the lower level terraces. A two-storey pavilion here is surrounded by an enchanting garden. 

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