The Shalimar Gardens (or Shalimar Gardens), a Persian-type garden complex built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1641 AD, is located in Lahore, Pakistan. It is one of the most important among other Mughal gardens. Its construction was supervised by Khalilullah Khan, a noble in the court of Shah Jahan. The complex is located near Bagbanpura, about 5 km northeast of the city of Lahore. The garden complex was influenced by regions such as Central Asia, Persia, Kashmir, Punjab and the Delhi Sultanate. The Shalimar Gardens were included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1981 along with the Lahore Fort.
The Arain Mian family was the original owner of the Bagbanpura site where the garden complex is located. The Mughal emperor Shah Jahan awarded the family the royal title of “Mian” for their services to the Mughal Empire.
During that time the head of the family, Mian Muhammad Yusuf, handed over the site of Ishaq Pura to Shah Jahan as pressure was exerted by royal engineers who planned to build on the site due to its soil condition and good location. Shah Jahan in return granted the rule of Shalimar Garden to the Aren Mian family. The family was the custodian of the gardens for over 350 years.
General Ayub Khan nationalized the Shalimar Gardens in 1962 as prominent family members of the Arain Miyan family opposed the imposition of martial law by the general in Pakistan. General Ayub Khan also ordered the closure of the Mela Chiraghan festival held in the gardens in 1958.
Architecture and design
The garden complex looks like a rectangular parallelepiped. Its architectural design is based on four parts. A high brick wall, famous for its elaborate fret, surrounds the garden. The complex is at a distance of 658 meters from north to south and 258 meters from east to west.
Terraces of the gardens
The garden is spread over three high levels of terraces stacked on top of each other. The lower level is known as Hayat Baksh, which means the Friend of Life. The second or middle level is known as Faiz Baksh, which means beneficiary of good while the third or upper level is known as Farah Baksh which means giver of bliss.
There are a total of 410 fountains with water flowing in marble pools. Such is the creativity in building water systems and thermal engineering that even today scientists are unable to measure designs from blueprints.
The water from the fountains helps in cooling the surroundings especially during the scorching summer months of Lahore and is a relief for the visitors. There are also five water springs in the garden which include Sawan Bhadoon and the Great Marble Waterfall.
The Buildings of the Gardens
The garden complex consists of several buildings including the Sawan Bhadun House, Nakar Khana, Khwabgah or room to sleep, Hammam or bathing place, Aiwan or Bada Hall, Aramgah or resting place, Begum Sahib’s Khwabgah or imaginary place. During the summer for the emperor’s wife, baradari or resting places, especially in the gardens, Diwan-i-Khas-o-Aam or the place of conversation of special and common people with the emperor to enjoy the coolness generated by the fountain. Apart from the above buildings, the complex has two entrances and minarets at the corners.
Many trees were planted in the gardens which include apple, mango, almond, cherry and many other fruit bearing and aromatic plants which are bound to delight the visitors and nature lover tourists.
Read More About Word Heritage sites in Pakistan
- Takht-e-Bahi : The Jewel of Cultural Heritage
- Taxila : History, Archaeological Value & Tourism
- Mohenjodaro & Harappa – Archaeological Ruins
Frequently Asked Questions About Shalimar Garden Lahore
Q. Who built the Shalimar Garden Lahore?
A – The Shalimar Gardens, built by Shah Jahan in 1641-2, is a Mughal garden, which draws Persian influence on medieval Islamic garden traditions, and bears witness to the antithesis of Mughal artistic expression.
Q. Where is Shalimar Garden located and who built it?
A – The Shalimar Gardens (or Shalimar Gardens), a Persian-type garden complex built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1641 AD, is located in Lahore, Pakistan. It is one of the most important among other Mughal gardens. Its construction was supervised by Khalilullah Khan, a noble in the court of Shah Jahan.
Q. Why is Shalimar Garden famous?
A – The gardens date back to the time when the Mughal Empire was at the peak of its artistic and aesthetic, and is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in Pakistan. The Shalimar Gardens were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981 because they incorporate Mughal garden design at the peak of its development.
Q. What does shalimar mean
A – “The name of the main park of Lahore, Shalimar or Shalimar, remains a mystery. It is usually translated as ‘abode of light’ or ‘moonlight’, without any grammatical or literal interpretation. Many Mughal gardens are named Shalimar: such as those built by Jahangir for Empress Nur Jahan near Srinagar in Kashmir.