Saturday, 15 January 2022

151. Mughal Gardens At Wah

About 40 kilometers from Islamabad, on GT towards Attock, lies the famous Mughal Gardens. The garden is located near the old village of Wah at 33°48'05.0"N, 72°42'01.5"E. It is a vast garden and covers an area of at least 15 acres. The Mughals were very fond of gardens and during their long rule they laid out hundreds of gardens in the length and breadth of India. In addition to parks, even their tombs and sarais (inns) had vast gardens. In Pakistan, the most famous examples are the Shalimar garden, the tomb of Jehangir also known as Akbari sarai and the tomb of Noor Jehan. These all are beautiful examples of Mughal architecture and gardens. Many more gardens in and around Lahore have disappeared due to depredations of time, and now just some remnants of those glorious times can be seen around some old tombs.

This elegant garden was constructed during the reign of Emperor Akbar. Raja Man Singh, the famous general of Emperor Akbar, stayed in this area from 1581 to 1586 to quell troubles on the northwestern border areas. During his stay, he built a garden at this place. A brook and a natural pond existed at this place and he constructed a small garden around this pond. A few years later Emperor Jehangir on his way to Kabul stayed here for three days in 1607 and fished in the pond. He liked the places and named it Wah, a word of appreciative exclamation. 

But it was Shah Jahan who laid a garden on a vast scale and constructed many beautiful buildings and pavilions to adorn this garden. He visited this place in 1639. He assigned this job to his famous master engineer Ahmed Maamar Lahori, a famous architect. The garden was constructed under his supervision and took two years. The garden was made in the typical Mughal style. He constructed baradaris (pavilions), ponds, waterfalls and water channels. Hamams (bathrooms), were provided with both cold and hot water. Many kinds of trees and flowers were planted to beautify the garden. Shah Jahan was extremely fond of gardens and he stayed four times in 1646, 1647, 1649 and 1654. His courtiers like Abdul Hameed Lahori and Muhammad Saleh Kamboh compared its beauty to the beauty of paradise. Aurangzeb also stayed here for some time in 1676. 

As you can see in the pictures below the pond is the main attraction of this garden. One one side of the garden are two baradaris or pavillions. The pond is surrounded by green lawn and beautiful plants and trees. 




Indeed it was an important stop for the Mughals princes and officials and was famous as a “farood gah” or royal halting place. So it served as sarai (inn) as well as a pleasure garden. After the decline of the Mughals, the garden fell upon hard times and suffered badly during the Afghan and Sikh periods. During the British raj too, it was neglected. However, in the early 2000s archaeology department started taking interest in the preservation and restoration of this precious heritage, and excavations and repairs started. Now, these efforts have borne fruit and we have a beautiful garden to visit and enjoy. But I must add that more efforts are needed to keep the garden in a good condition.

Some water channels are still running and add to the beauty of the garden. 

This building is at the back of the garden and connected with the boundary wall. 15.12.2021

Another pond. 

Wah was known for the sources of fresh water. These water springs and channels are still the main beauty and attraction of this area. These channels still have running water and are the main beauty of this garden. 

Cypress trees add to the beauty of the garden. (15.12.2021)


I visited the garden on 15 December 2021, at the height of autumn and amidst a drought, and the dusty atmosphere and dry weather had marred the beauty of the garden. But even then I could not help but praise its beauty and plan. It is a good place to have a picnic and at the same time to appreciate the marvels of Mughal architecture. 

Tariq Amir

January 15, 2022.


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