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Akbar’s Garden at Baghanwali

 
Catalogue
Mughal Gardens
City
Jhelum
Country
Pakistan
Dates
16th century 17th century
Authors
Abdul Rehman;
Munazzah Akhtar

Description

In the twenty-sixth year of his reign (1580), Akbar, who was traveling to Kashmir from Lahore, crossed the river Jhelum and in a short time reached Nandna, a Hindu Shahiya site on the Sat Range where Mahmud of Ghazna had fought a battle against Anandpal. It is also the place where Alberuni (973–1048) stayed and made important calculations of the diameter of the earth and of the phases of the moon. At this place the hills, form a bend producing a very pleasant landscape. Surging from the top of a hill, a waterfall provides abundant waters. The site impressed the emperor and he ordered the construction of a bāghAbuʾl-Fazl wrote that “in a short time this garden was excellently accomplished” (The Āʾīn-i Akbarī, 3:513). This is the only Mughal-period reference available to us for this garden. It remained neglected in the later period and today we find only a dilapidated structure of gateway and traces of water channels, still extant but in a state of neglect. In the 1930s, Sir Aurel Stein visited the site and described it:

Interesting archaeological evidence of this is furnished by the conspicuous ruin known as ‘Shahi Darwaza’ (The Royal Gate) situated by the right bank of the stream of Baghanwala and about a half mile below the main portion of the village. It consists of a gateway with porch, central domed chamber, and two pentagonal apses, one on the either side of the central chamber, the whole built with carefully dressed slabs of red sandstone. The square structure measuring 50 feet outside and the entrance under the porch 12 feet and 8 inches in width, the arch over the latter is 15 feet in height. The dome over the central chamber, mostly fallen, and the vaulting over the apses are constructed with horizontal courses, while true arches surmount the porch and inner gate on both sides of the chamber. The mixture of the two systems of vaulting seems to point to construction in Muhammadan times. No side wall adjoins the structure. As tradition asserts, it seems to have served as ornamental gateway to a garden after the fashion of a baradari’s found at the gardens of the Mughals. Stairs at the back give access to the roof. (Stein, Archaeological Reconnaissances, 44)

The central chamber is flanked by two half-octagonal apses. The garden is reported to have had pools and water channels to irrigate the plantation. The channels are now covered with several layers of mud, leaving no significant features that can throw light on the hydraulics of this important garden. However, this early Mughal garden must have strongly influenced the development of a garden culture on the subcontinent. To maintain this garden, a large number of specialist bāghbāns must have been appointed there. A settlement, now known as Baghanwali, recalls its link to the historic garden. The site needs an in-depth archeological study. Only the garden gateway survives. 

 

Source

  • Court Chronicle, 17th Century
Catalogue
Mughal Gardens
City
Jhelum
Country
Pakistan
Dates
16th century 17th century
Authors
Abdul Rehman;
Munazzah Akhtar