The Mughal architecture of Kashmir mostly consists of three gardens, mosques and the inn which they got constructed all along the Mughal road. But they also built the Forte of Nagar Nagar at Srinager. They also raised Bladeries in the terraces of their beautiful gardens which resembled to little palaces. However, they were perhaps the first people in Kashmir who set a tradition of the garden construction in this glorious valley. Historians have recorded that 777 terraces of Mughal gardens which as per their perception existed only on the banks of Dal lake. However I could see only few terraces of Shalimar, Nishat, Pari Mahal Chasma Shahi and Naseem Bagh al along the banks of Dal. I was puzzled to see the remains of an olden Mughal garden near Illahi Bagh which has become the private property of some family of Srinager.
Most of the Mughal gardens of Kashmir owe their grandeur primarily to Emperor Jahangir who had an undaunted love for Kashmir, and his son Shah Jahan. Jahangir was responsible for the careful selection of the site and manoeuvring it to suit the requirements of the traditional paradise gardens. Although the Mughals never deviated drastically from the original form or concept of the gardens, their biggest challenge in Kashmir was to exploit the chosen site and the abundance of water resource to its maximum potential. The sites selected were invariably at the foot of a mountain, wherever there was a source of water either in the form of streams or springs. This feature eventually resulted in terraced garden layouts.
Undaunted by the challenges offered by mountainous terrain, the Mughal engineering skills and aesthetics helped in exploiting the dominating natural landscape and the available water resources to their maximum potential and achieved an unparalleled height of perfection.
'...Typically, in the pleasure gardens of Kashmir, the garden site is at the lower elevation of a hill, between the hill and the lake. It is not accidental that this particular location is the perfect place from which spectacular views of the regional space of the valley are revealed: to one side the mountain at the back, on the other, the lake view. Towards the lake, the visual link between garden and valley is marked by the flow of water in that direction and the progression of terraces downwards with the grand chinars on either side. These direct the eye away from the details of the garden to the extended lake panorama and hills beyond. The garden celebrates the beauty of the valley. It transcends its visible physical limits, and the internal space engages dramatically with the larger setting....' (Shaheer, n.d.)
Almost all popular Mughal gardens in Kashmir except Veerinag follow a similar pattern with a central water channel sourced at natural springs. This channel which formed the central visual axis of the garden was further enhanced by avenues of poplars or chinar trees. There are one or more baradaris or pavilions with a central open space 'dalan' placed over these water channels. These water channels cascade down from one terrace to another in the form of chadars or falls, where they fill in the larger water tanks, hauz, squarish in form and having an array of fountains. Finally, the water from the central channel joins a water body, either a flowing stream nearby, as in case of Achabal, or a lake, as in case of Nishat Bagh and Shalimar Bagh.
The gardens constructed during the mughal period are the greatest tourist places of Kashmir, which attract number of tourists every year to this land. As such steps should be taken to maintain these gardens in accordance with their architectural styles so that the mughal legacy of garden construction is restored back to its pristine glory.