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Friday, June 29, 2012

Gardens at Srinagar (Kashmir) – Chashme Shahi

Until the recent past, we had all wooden bridges over rivers, rivulets and canals which got dismantled and replaced with concrete ones. The highway to Jammu is getting widened and a railway line is fast coming up. We shall see a direct train service from Srinagar within 2 years. The number of tourists visiting Kashmir this year is  phenomenal and all past records got broken. We do not have beggary as such but there are few who, to remain lazy, avoid working and solicit alms. This was what our driver had to share with us enthusiastically. He was taking us for a local tour of Srinagar. We were passing through the narrow strip of the extensive Dal Lake, a little early in the morning. On the other bank of the lake we could see many of the house boats in a row and few shikaras (roofed boats) floating around. The road we were taking is referred to as the Marine Drive locally which offers an excellent view of the lake for the whole distance. Roads and the footpaths were exceptionally clean.

Shalimar, Chashme Shahi and Nishat are the names of the major parks at Srinagar which are all Mughal Gardens. All of them are located on the Eastern banks of the Dal Lake with a shore line of over 15 kilometres. On the rear side, there is the  Zabarwan mountain ranges with many springs that are the source of perennial water supply to the gardens below. The topography would have facilitated the development of these gardens, not only during the Mughal period but much much earlier. The city of Srinagar was founded by a king known as Pravarasena.

Before our vehicle could reach the tail end of the lake along with which the road went, our driver made a right turn on a road adjoining the Botanical Gardens and told us that we are approaching the Governor’s residence. The security positioned on the road made all of us to climb down leaving behind children. The vehicle moved on and we made our way on foot to catch our car at a distance. We could not understand the purpose of this exercise, may be security considerations. After a short distance from that point the famous Chashme Shahi stood before us. The same road leads to another place known as Pari Mahal which was a Buddhist Vihara once upon a time.

We were required to buy tickets for entry into this park, There were tourists from all parts of the country but strangely no foreigners. Kashmiri folk lore attributes the discovery of the natural spring to a women saint named ‘Rupa Bhawani’. Her family name or nick name was ‘Sahibi’ and therefore the spring waters came to be known as ‘Chashme Sahibi’. Over a period of time the name got corrupted and  is now known as ‘Chashme Shahi’. Shahi stands for being Royal. However the garden around the spring was developed in a systematic way at the instance of Ali Mardan, a Governor of the Mughals in that region.

The outlet of the spring waters has been encased in a small structure and the waters fall in a square shallow tank and from here  the water channel facilitates further flow downwards. There were many who were queuing up to have some mouthfuls of the spring water which is said to have medicinal properties. Some say it cures many kinds of stomach ailments. Normally spring water from the mountains is considered to contain minerals and supposed to be pure. Medicinal and/or magical attributions are simply an exaggerated view point. We also struggled our way to the spot wherefrom waters flowed out and filled couple of bottles. Definitely the water was much superior to the ones we buy (processed and bottled).

This is the rear view of the main entrance

The mountain slope seems to have been levelled up in three tiers (terraced) for the development of a beautiful garden. There are Chinar and Cypress trees at the far end. Some exotic flowering trees have also been spotted. The flower beds have seasonal flowers in bloom. Roses have been grown extensively but looking to the grandeur of the garden, the varieties available (4/5) seem to be inadequate. However, the blooms and greenery all around was very soothing and captivated us.

The crowd here is to get them photographed in the traditional attire

Interestingly, the gardeners  were offering the seeds of the seasonal flowers of all shades at a high price.  


  1. Spectacular view of Dal lake with its beautiful house boats. The various gardens and flowers are charming and breathtakingly beautiful. Thanks for sharing these wonderful views of Kashmir

  2. अहा! क्या अद्भुत नज़ारा है! बहुत पहले (1984 में) गए थे। कई धुंधली सी यादें ताज़ा हो गई।

    आप अद्भुत फोटोग्राफर हैं।

  3. spectacular images...what a place!

  4. The picture with people queing up to have some spring water reminds me of my visit to Karlo Vivari (Czechia). Like many others, I filled my cup with the therapeutic water of the hot springs in the center of the city.

  5. This place been described and covered just as I have heard it ever since I was a child.. It is so beautiful...

  6. It is good to know that Sri nagar is getting safer. I have been here many times, but have always felt that I am located within an army camp. Looking at your photos, it looks like the rest of the country.

  7. Great post, wonderful photos.
    Thanks for sharing from this beautiful place.
    Wish you a great Sunday.

  8. PNS, pics are awesome..I love roses and they are so fresh.

  9. I can't even imagine how breathtaking this place must be in person!! your photos are incredible :))

  10. Lovely captures from our beautiful state.

  11. oh wow.. kashmir is beautiful.. thank you so much for sharing brought back so many memories of my visit to the place in school ..


  12. Gorgeous Kashmir, wonderful photos. Thank you so much for sharing!

  13. Kashmir has always been the dream place to see and I am happy that now tourists are going there..

  14. Could feel the freshness through those beautiful pictures of the heaven on earth:)

  15. Hello PNS,

    Fabulous photos and very interesting write up. Fantastic.

    Best wishes,

  16. Loving your photographs, those gardens are breathtaking. interesting point you make about the quality of the water.

  17. What lovely pictures! The park must be a fabulous place!

  18. I like the roof boats. The garden also seems interesting. So, the railway line from Srinagar to Jammu is coming soon... That will help the tourism in this area, I guess. The white petals - are they flowers or large leaves?

    Destination Infinity

    1. Thank you DI. It's a large fragrant flower known as Magnolia Grandiflora also known as Him Champa in Hindi.

  19. Thanks to your visit, I could get the scent of your lovely blog today! You take your readers along with you through your trips with interesting narration and beautiful pics.
    Thanks for your comment on my "dawn".. yes, dawns can be beautiful anywhere in the world, we just need little time to enjoy this daily miracle :-)

  20. Nice post. I enjoyed reading it. Beautiful photos too.

    Thank you for your visit. Have a nice day always.

  21. So nicely explained, I am eagerly waiting now and lucky I am to list the places I can visit

  22. Your photos are fantastic and this place is a paradise!!!
    Thank you for so interesting tour!!!
    I wish you a wonderful summer!

  23. बहुत दिनो से वंचित थी ऐसे नज़ारे देखने के लिये। मेरी ब्लाग लिस्ट भी उड गयी है इस लिये सब ब्लाग्ज़ तक पहुँच नही पाती। बहुत सुन्दर रम्णीय स्थान की सैर करवाई फोटो भी बहुत शानदार हैं धन्यवाद।

  24. Beautiful description of Kashmir with
    enchanting photographs are stealing the heart.

    I had been to Kashmir in 1988.
    Your post has revived the memories of those days.
    That time terror was spreading in the atmosphere.

    You must have visited Adi Guru Shankracharya Temple,Kheer Bhawani temple.

    Thanks for this nice presentation.

    Whenever find time,please visit my blog.

  25. Great job here. I really enjoyed what you had to say. Keep going because you definitely bring a new voice to this subject. Not many people would say what youve said and still make it interesting. Well, at least Im interested. Cant wait to see more of this from you.

  26. great pics PNS, brings fond memories, we visited Srinagar in 1979..was a wonderful trip and wonderful people, most of them, i must say..