Nishat Bagh, also known as the garden of joy, is a terraced Mughal garden sprawled along the eastern side of the Dal Lake, with the towering Zabarwan hills as its backdrop, in the city of Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir. The second largest Mughal garden in the Kashmir Valley, it is eclipsed only by the Shalimar Bagh, which also lies on the banks of the Dal Lake.
The aptly named ‘garden of joy' is truly a sight to behold, designed by Asaf Khan, on the orders of Mughal Emperor Jahangir, as a token of love for his wife Nur Jahan, the sister of Asaf Khan; also to serve as a place of leisure and reminiscence. Widely considered to be a master class of Mughal horticulture, the garden teems with rarely seen species of flowering plants, complete with lengthy alleyways lined with Chinar and cypress trees. Fondly named as the Garden Farah Baksh or the ‘Bestower of Pleasure’ by Emperor Jahangir, the garden also came to be known as Faiz Baksh, afterwards.
Nishat Bagh has surprisingly remained intact since its construction in 1619. A garden that has stayed true to its Persian heritage, with its panorama on lines of the Islamic garden layout, the place is spread over 32 acres of flat land, its rectangular shape sculpted into 3 terraces containing pools of flowing water. Wondrous to watch is the flow of water from the higher terrace pool to the lower one, sashaying down as a resplendent waterfall. Every pool has multiple water-fountains lined-up in the centre, outlined by rows of Chinar trees and walk-ways running in tandem with the pool. The source of water is the central water-canal ‘Shah Nahar’, fed as it is by a mile long canal drawing water from the Dal Lake.
Each of the three floors of the terrace has its own specialty, the first one containing a public audience hall with a black marble throne conveniently placed at the centre. The second terrace houses the ‘Diwan-e-khaas’, originally meant for the Emperor’s conversations with his nobles. The third terrace is characterised by two small stone-pavilions for the royal harem, surrounded by the splendorous Zenana Gardens, which also contain a black-marble pavilion called the Baradari.