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With terraced lawns, cascading fountains, paint-box-bright flowerbeds with the panorama of the Dal in front of them - the three Mughal Gardens of Chashma Shahi, Nishat, Harwan Garden and Shalimar Bagh are the Mughal Emperors' concept of paradise and are today very popular places for picnics and excursions. The beauty of these gardens is at their best during spring but the Mughal structure of these gardens lends them a unique sense of beauty even when the flowers are not blossoming. They consist of mainly the following three gardens:
Nishat Bagh - the Garden of bliss laid down by Asif Khan father of Empress Noorjahan in 1633 AD on the bank of Dal Lake with Zabarwan Massif at the back. In Nishat commands magnificent view of the Lake and the Snow capped Pir Panchal Range to the west of the valley. Also known as "the garden of bliss", the Nishat gardens have the Zabarwan Mountains forming its backdrop. Asaf Khan, the brother of Nur Jahan, designed the Kashmir Nishat Bagh in 1633 AD. Within the garden are ruins of some of the buildings dating back to the Mughal period. One of them is a double story pavilion enclosed on two sides with latticed windows. There is also a small spring behind the garden, known as Gopi Tirth. It is a source of supply of crystal clear water to the garden.
Shalimar Bagh - the Abode of Love’, is said to have been a village built by Paravarassna II. He used to stay here when on a visit to Sukhswami a saint living near Harwan. In 1619 Jehangir ordered a garden to be laid out this spot, calling it, Ferrah Bakkash (Delightful) in 1727 A.D Zaffar-Khan. A governor during the reign of Shah Jahan made an extension of it and called it ‘Faiz Baksh’ (Bountiful). The garden is laid down in four terraces, rising one above the other. The fourth terrace of the garden was, at one point of time, reserved for royal ladies. There is also a canal lined with polished stones running through the center of the Shalimar Bagh. A canal runs through the garden lined with polished stones and supplies with water from Harwan.
Harwan Garden - Harwan Garden is a beautiful garden, situated at Harwan, about 18 kilometers from Srinagar, in Jammu and Kashmir. This huge garden lined with flower beds and Chinar trees, is an ideal spot for picnickers. The picturesque Harwan Lake is behind the garden. The canal flowing through the middle of the garden is fed by the lake.
Chashma Shahi - Chashma Shahi is one of the three major Mughal Gardens in Srinagar. It is located 9km from Srinagar city centre, and is the first Mughal garden that you would visit as you pass the Nehru Park. Meaning Royal Spring, this garden is above the Nehru Memorial Park. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan set up the Kashmir Chashma Shahi Mughal Gardens in 1632 AD. The garden is quite famous for spring of energizing digestive mineral water inside it. Chasma Shahi Garden of Kashmir, India, offers a striking view of the scenic Dal Lake and the neighboring mountains. The garden has a number of terraces, with several fountains built right through its center.
Cheshma Shahi is small and charming. It was laid out by the Mughal Governor Ali Mardan Khan for Emperor Shah Jahan, the ruler famous for building the Taj Mahal, in 1632.
Shah Jahan built a pavilion and laid out the Mughal garden in three terraces, each above the other by 18 feet. Cheshma Shahi is famous for the pure and refreshing spring that flows from it.
Built at a height above the city, Cheshma Shahi offers a great view of the surrounding area with the Zabarwan hills behind it.
Pari Mahal (The palace of Fairies) - (Palace of Fairies), Pari Mahal was initially a garden founded by Dara Shiko, Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan's eldest son for his Sufi teacher, Mulla Shah. Once dotted with numerous springs, which have dried up now, the Pari Mahal gardens are now the treasure possession of the state. Pari Mahal is bedazzling with radiant lights at night, and though located on the spur of a hill, can be seen from most places in Srinagar. Pari Mahal, once a Buddhist monastery, was converted into a school of astrology by Dara Shikoh.Once punctuated wth several springs that have since dried up, the Pari Mahal gardens are now the pride of the state. Pari Mahal is illuminated at night, and can be seen, located on the spur of a hill, from most places in Srinagar.
Hari Parbat - Crowned to greatness by the ruins of a fort, the Hari Parbat hill, according to legends, grew out of pebble stones dropped by Parvati the Hindu Goddess while trying to defeat a demon. Though today it is no more than rubble, the thick massive wall around the fort is an imposing evidence of a historic past. Over the centuries, the vicinity of the hill has seen several temples being erected in the name of its past glory.Hari Parbat are located on the boundary of Srinagar city. This is an ancient and one of the most religious places in the state of Kashmir. This place is considered to be the abode of Mahashakti (the Divine Mother Jagatamba Sharika Bhagwati). This goddess is also called as Rajrajeshwari or Maha Tripursundhari. Locally, people refer to this goddess by the name ‘hari’.
Shankaracharya Mandir (Temple) - this Temple is situated at the height of 1000 feet above the plain. The earliest of all the Temples built in 200 BC; By Jalaka the son of the Great Buddhist converts Ashoka. The temple was subsequently rebuilt and dedicated by Raja Gopadittya in 6th Century. It is said to be that “the Takhut-I-Sulaiman (throne one of the Solomon).
Hazratbal - The Hazratbal Shrine is situated on the left bank of the famous Dal Lake in Srinagar. It is the most important Muslim Religious place. This unmatched reverence is anchored in the love and respect for the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), whose Moi-e-Muqqadas, (the sacred hair) is preserved here. The shrine is known by many names including Hazratbal, Assar-e-Sharief, madinat-us-Sani, Dargah Sharief and Dargah.Sadiq Khan, laid out a garden here and constructed a palacial building, Ishrat mahal or Pleasure House, in 1623. The construction of the present marble structure was started by the Muslim Aquaf Trust headed by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1968 and completed in 1979.The Moi-e-Muqqadas is displayed on various occasions related with the life of the Prophet and his four holy companions.
Jamia Masjid - the largest Masque built by Sultan Sikandar Constructed in 1400 A.D. Enlarged by his son Zain-Ul- Abdin.
Tomb of Zain-Ul-Abidin - the most attractive chapter of Muslim rule in Kashmir (1421-1472) in the reign of Zain- Ul-Abdin.
Pather Masjid - Pather Masjid of the Mughal Mosque built by emperor Noor Jahan in 1620 A.D. wife of Jahangir. Muslims did not however use it for prayers.
Shah Hamdan - originally built in 1953 AD, to commemorate the visit of Mir Syed Ali Hamdan destroyed by fire in 1479 and 1731 AD. It was rebuilt in 1732 by Abdul Barket Khan and since then stands as a land mark in the City. Built of timber, not a nail or Screw was used in the construction.
Dal Lake - Dal lake of Kashmir is one of the most beautiful and picturesque lakes in India. The world famous water body described by Sir Walter Lawrence as the "Lake par-excellence”, half a kilometers from the city, is the jewel in the crown of Kashmir eulogized by the poets and abundantly praised by the travelers and tourists. The lake of late has unfortunately, considerably shrunk in size causing concern to environmentalists. The Governments have chalked out an ambitious project to save the lake from extinction. The lake is 6x3 kilometers divided by causeways into four parts, Gagribal, Lokut Dal, Bod Dal and Nagin. Two islands, Sona Lank and Ropa Lank within the lake add to its beauty. Nagin is the loveliest part of the Dal Lake separated by a causeway. It is the second largest lake of Jammu and Kashmir state after Wular Lake. The lake is surrounded by majestic mountains from three sides and a large number of gardens and orchards have been laid along the shores. The University of Kashmir also stands along the shores of the Dal Lake. The hundreds of uniquely decorated houseboats which float on the Dal Lake afford an opportunity to tourists to reside on the lake in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility.
Nagin Lake - it is popular for water sports like water skiing, swimming, diving and sailing. This area is preferred by people looking for calm and quiet environment. For this reason, foreigners find it more interesting to stay at Nagin Lake. The Lake is approachable by road through the old city and fore-shore Road alongside the Dal Lake. Shikara ride in this placid lake is a memorable experience.
Manasbal Lake - this Lake is famous for Lotus flowers during summer and Paradise for Bird Watchers, between the river and foot of the Mountains spurs lower end of the Sind valley famous for Picnic spot.
Wular Lake - the largest fresh water Lake in India 26 kilometers long and 8 kilometers wide surrounded by the mountains. The river Jehlum passes right through the Lake the deepest part is near the Hill Called Baba Shakur-ud-Din on the North West side.
Anchar Lake - the Anchar Lake is a swampy area. The Sind Nullah enters this lake from one side and flows out from the other. It is about 8 kilometers long and 3 Kilometers wide Gandarbal is a famous township on its north-west bank... Anchar Lake is bird water's paradise where you will be able to watch and identify many species of birds, some of them on their way to extinction.
On the banks of this lake is situated Soura with SKIMS, Buchpora, Ahmad Nagar, Pandach, Nagbal and finally Ganderbal. Toulmul and the Mansbal Lake is farther north, infact northeast near the bottom of the mountains
There are many other lakes besides these like Harvan Lake, Konsarnag or Vishno Pad Lake. Gangabal Lake, Sheshnag Lake, Neelang Lake, Tarsar and Marsar lakes, Sokh and Dokh lakes.
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions".
"The purpose of our lives is to be happy" - Dalai Lama