Lahore is popularly acknowledged as the city of gardens, some of the gardens are newly constructed but the main beauty of the city is with its historic gardens which are still well maintained and give a charismatic visual appeal to the visitors. Shalamar Gardens, sometimes called Shalimar Gardens were laid out as a Persian Paradise Garden. It is actually a Mughal garden complex located in Lahore Pakistan. The Shalimar Gardens are located near Baghbanpura along the Grand Trunk Road approximately five kilometers northeast of the main Lahore city. In 1637, the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan (who was known for his love for nature and construction) ordered to construct a garden in the Lahore, the capital of Pakistan province of Punjab. It took 4 years to complete in 1941, measure 658 meters cover an area of sixteen hectares. 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 Mughal garden is symbolized by enclosing walls, a four-sided layout of paths and features, and huge amplitude of flowing water.
Moreover, Shah Jahan father “Emperor Janghair” also built a Shalimar Garden in Kashmir. Hence Lahore Shalimar Garden is mainly influenced by Kashmir Shalimar Garden. The gardens have been laid out from south to north in three levels of terraces, The upper level or the third terrace named Farah Baksh meaning Bestower of Pleasure. The middle level or the second terrace named Faiz Baksh meaning Bestower of Goodness. The lower level terrace named Hayat Baksh meaning Bestower of Life. Shalimar Garden is one of top tourist attraction in the city which has historic relevance. This extreme collage of nature and constructional artwork was accomplished under the project management of Khalilullah Khan who was a renowned noble of the Emperor’s court. Shalimar Gardens draws inspiration from Central Asia, surrounded by a high brick wall, which is famous for its intricate fretwork.
This garden was made on the concept of a Persian paradise garden, from the canal, rise 410 fountains, which discharge into wide marble pools. It is a credit to the creativity of Mughal engineers that even today scientists are unable to fully comprehend the water systems and thermal engineering from architectural blueprints. 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 49 °C. The fountains are the major highlight of the place which gives an enthralling feeling when they’re all in full swing. Amazingly, the garden has water through the fountains discharges itself into the exceptionally tremendous white marble pools. It was well engineered in ancient times and all the credit for such an impressive fountain system goes to the Royal Engineers and the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for coming up with this masterpiece of work. The incredible engineering feat was so brilliant that even the contemporary engineers of these days find it hard to comprehend the associated water system of the fountains even by referring the architectural blueprints of thermal engineering.
The Gardens have 5 water cascades including the great marble cascade and Sawan Bhadoon. There are several different types of trees in Garden, some of varieties of trees were planted like Almond, Apple, Apricot, Cherry, Gokcha, Mango, Mulberry, Peach, Plum, Quince Seedless, Sapling of Cypress, Shrubs, Pomegranate, Sour and sweet orange. Futhermore, a lot of other varieties of odoriferous (fragrant) and non-odoriferous and fruit giving plants adding the beauty of this Garden. The Shalimar Gardens are not just all about greenery and fountains but it also has a range of buildings with stunning architecture which is worth having a look at. The buildings were constructed for different purposes that serve the Royal family and the visitors of the time as well.
The building structures in the Shalimar Gardens includes, Sawan Bhadun Pavilion, Aiwan (The Grand Hall), Hammam (The Royal Bath), Naqar Khana, Aramgah (The Resting Place), Begum Sahib Khawabgah (Bedroom of the Emperor’s wife), Diwan-e-Khas-o-Aam (Hall for the ordinary and special visitors to the Emperor), Baradaries (The summer pavilions for enjoying nearby fountain coolness), 2 Gateways and minarets situated at the corners of the garden. Hence whenever you plan to visit Lahore, the don’t miss out Shalimar Garden, although it is an exceptional place and lots of work needed to be done for its proper preservation and timely maintenance work.