On west bank of Dal Lake, in 1635, on order of Shahjahan work on a new garden was started. It is said that on the same site, sometime after 1586, Akbar had laid out a garden.
In summer of 1635, when Sun entered the Zodiac of Aries, northern vernal equinox, March 20-21, twelve hundred saplings of chinar were planted all at the same time. Laid out in classic 'Char Chinar' pattern, four chinars in four corners of a rectangular piece of land, so that a person in centre would be under shade at all hours of the day. The saplings were fed water and milk. A canal from Zukrah canal (canal now non-existent, near Batpora) was dug and brought in to water velvety green grass. A boundary wall was raised and fountains planted (both disappeared during Afghan time). This Mughal garden was named Nasim Bagh or the Garden of Breeze, for the gently breeze that blew though it.
Persian chronograph for the garden read:
Dar jahan chu ba hukm-i-Shah-i-Jahan,
Dauhae tazah az na'im amad,
Kard gulgasht-i-an chu Shah-i-Jahan
Bulbul az shakha gul kalim amad;
Guft tarikha dauhae shahi
Az bihishte Adan Nasim amad
When in this land by order of Shah Jahan
A fresh garden came into existence out of magnificence.
When Shah Jahan roamed therein
Bulbul spoke from a blossomed branch
Said the date of the royal garden.
Local lore recommended visiting the garden in mornings when gentle Nasim would blow through it.
The Persian saying about gardens of Kashmir used to be:
Shalamar o lala-zar o sair-i-Kashmir ast u bas
Morning at Nashat Bagh and evening at the Nasim Bagh,
Shalamar, and tulip fields, - these are the places of
excursion in Kashmir and none else.
However, Godfrey Thomas Vigne, who visited Kashmir in 1835, was told by locals to visit the garden in morning.
I visited the garden in morning. I wonder if people still know when exactly Nasim blows.
In 1950s, during the time of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, this garden was handled over by the Dogra royal family to the civil administration for use as campus of a University. Naseem Bagh is now the beautiful campus of Kashmir University.
[via: Japan Archive]
It was a popular camping site for the British.
|Hari Parbat from Naseem Bagh|
[via: George Eastman House Photography Collections]
|Nasim Bagh by Ralph Stewart|
Historical account based on 'Tarikh-i- Hasan' of Moulvi Ghulam Hasan Shah (1832-1898). And translations provided by Pandit Anand Koul in 1920s.