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Planting Paradise: Mughal Garden Networks in Kashmir, India

Jan Haenraets, Boston University, Fellow 2016–2017, Fall

I explored how seventeenth-century Mughal rulers and their governors developed an extensive network of gardens and routes throughout the Kashmir Valley. The investigation brought together material from archival research and surveys that helped to identify several lost and forgotten Mughal gardens and to create a more accurate image of the spread and historical meaning of the gardens throughout the valley and in Srinagar. The study, which will result in a book, starts to show how many of the gardens’ locations were close to preexisting sacred sites in the valley, such as springs and temples. The positions of the gardens around Dal Lake in Srinagar and along transportation thoroughfares were closely linked to imperial rule and social hierarchy under the Mughals. The fellowship also gave me access to other key historical publications and important cartographic evidence. This enabled me to refine the core structure of my book and to establish a clear chronological overview of pre-Mughal and Mughal-era garden developments, which will form the basis of several chapters.