Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Shalimar Gardens (Lahore)


Shalimar Gardens (Lahore)

Shalimar Gardens (Lahore)The Shalimar Gardens (Urdu:), sometimes written Shalamar Gardens, were built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in Lahore, modern day Pakistan. Construction began in 1641 A.D. (1051 A.H.) and was completed the following year. The project management was carried out under the superintendence of Khalilullah Khan, a noble of Shah Jahan's court, in cooperation with Ali Mardan Khan and Mulla Alaul Maulk Tuni.

General info

The Shalamar Gardens are laid out in the form of an oblong parallelogram, surrounded by a high brick wall, which is famous for its intricate fretwork. The gardens measure 658 meters north to south and 258 meters east to west. In 1981, Shalimar Gardens was included as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the Lahore Fort, under the UNESCO Convention concerning the protection of the world's cultural and natural heritage sites in 1972.

The three level terraces of the Gardens
The Gardens have been laid out from south to north in three descending terraces, which are elevated by 4-5 metres (13-15 feet) above one another. The three terraces have names in Urdu as follows:

The upper terrace named Farah Baksh meaning Bestower of Pleasure.
The middle terrace named Faiz Baksh meaning Bestower of Goodness.
The lower terrace named Hayat Baksh meaning Bestower of life.

Shah Nahar : Irrigation of the Gardens
To irrigate the Gardens, a canal named Shah Nahar meaning Royal canal, later also known as Hansti canal, meaning Laughing canal was brought from Rajpot (present day Madhpur in India), a distance of over 161 kilometers. The canal intersected the Gardens and discharged into a large marble basin in the middle terrace.

410 fountains

From this basin, and from the canal, rise 410 fountains, which discharge into wide marble pools. The surrounding area is rendered cooler by the flowing of the fountains, which is a particular relief for visitors during Lahore's blistering summers, with temperature sometimes exceeding 120 degrees fahrenheit. It is a credit to the ingenuity of the Mughal engineers that even today scientists are unable to fathom how the fountains were operated originally. The distribution of the fountains is as follows:

The upper level terrace has 105 fountains.
The middle level terrace has 152 fountains.
The lower level terrace has 153 fountains.
All combined, the Gardens therefore have 410 fountains.

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