I visited Chashme Shahi and took home the memories of a small yet beautiful garden. As I had been there on a Sunday, the garden was crammed and so it was not my ideal scene for a garden. Most gardens in Srinagar are overcrowded on weekends. It’s best visited on weekdays when you can enjoy it without too much bother.
The garden was commissioned during the reign of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and was built by Ali Mardan Khan, Mughal Governor in 1632. It was built for Shah Jahan’s eldest son Dara Sikoh. Spread across one acre, the garden is 108 meters long and 38 meters wide.
Chashme Shahi is the smallest of the three Mughal Gardens in Srinagar but not less beautiful or charming. According to English writer and traveler Aldous Huxley, Chashme Shahi is, “architecturally the most charming of the gardens near Srinagar.” The garden is built around a fresh spring, from which it also gets its name. It was named after the clan of a saint woman, Rupa Bhawani who found the spring. She was from the Sahib clan and therefore, the spring was known as 'Chashme Sahibi'.
The garden is located at a good height in the Zabarwan Range. This garden is not about the view it offers (unlike Pari Mahal) as much as it is about the fresh spring. The garden has a proper entrance gate like most Mughal gardens and opens to a small first terrace garden. With the mighty Zabarwan mountains at the backdrop, the beauty of the garden is timeless. Spring water ran down through the garden and kids enjoyed in the several small fountains, built in Mughal style.
Though there are Chinars and many beautiful flowers, the main attraction of the garden is the fresh spring and the stylish house built to shelter it. On a rather hot summer day I was relieving to dip my feet in the cool water that gushed out from the mountains. The spring was crowded to the brim. The spring water is also believed to have some medicinal properties and most visitors make sure that they take back a bottle of water from here. It was noted that Jawaharlal Nehru used to take the spring water on his visits.
Chasme Shahi is literally translated as ‘Royal Spring’. The cool natural spring and fresh water gushing out from the mountain is a pure joy to behold. The Royal Spring gives the garden its unique look and makes it what it is.
Entry Fee: Rs.10