Nishat Bagh is a terraced Mughal garden built on the eastern side of the Dal Lake, close to Srinagar in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India. It is the second largest Mughal garden in the Kashmir Valley. The largest in size is the Shalimar Bagh, which is also located on the bank of the Dal Lake. ‘Nishat Bagh’ is Urdu, which means "Garden of Joy," "Garden of Gladness" and "Garden of Delight."
Even though the layout of Nishat Bagh was based on the basic conceptual model of the Persian gardens, it had to be remodelled to fit the topographic and water source conditions at the site chosen in the Kashmir valley. The plan, instead of being central with four radiating arms in a square pattern as in the case of Chahar (suited for a flat country side), was changed to an axial stream flow design to fit the hill condition with water source originating at the top of the hill end. This resulted in planning a rectangular layout rather than a square layout. This helped in dispensing with the long side arms. Thus, a rectangular layout with east-west length of 548 metres (1,798 ft) and width of338 metres (1,109 ft) was adopted.
The Twelve Terraces:
The details of the twelve terraces have been recorded as originally built:
- The first terrace is a water collection chamber that is also linked to the side flow from the garden.
- The second terrace is accessed through a gate. This terrace has five fountains that is supplied water from the third terrace, from where it flowed to the lowest terrace.
- The third terrace has a different design. The water chute has five arched open niches in the front and similar niches on the sides. A pavilion (baradari), a two-storied structure, which existed here when it was originally built, has since been dismantled. Stairways, on either side of the channel lead to the third terrace, which has a square chamber with five fountains. Moving up the flight of steps (four steps) on either side of the channel leads to the fourth terrace.
- The fourth terrace has two levels namely, a water channel and a square pool. Stairways with 7 steps lead to the fifth terrace.
- The fifth terrace, where a stone bench is provided across the channel to enjoy the scenic beauty. This also has a square chamber with five fountains.
- The sixth terrace is at two levels with five fountains and distinctive paving pattern.t
- The seventh terrace, where the same pattern continues.
- The eighth terrace is only a water channel or chute.
- The ninth terrace, at the end of two stairways, there is an octagonal bench. The pool in this terrace has nine fountains.
- The stairways to the tenth terrace are along the side retaining walls where only the water chute with fountains is provided.
- Engraved paths lead to an impressive eleventh terrace, which has twenty five fountains in a pool. Up from this dramatic terrace is the last one.
- The Zenana chamber, the twelfth terrace, is covered in the front by 5.5 metres (18 ft) high wall with a façade of blind arches. Only one arch in this blind facade provides an opening to the twelfth terrace. Two small octagonal towers on either side of the retaining walls provide views of the lower level terraces. A two-storey pavilion here is surrounded by a lovely garden with lush plantings.
Out of all the terraces, the second terrace is considered the most impressive in view of the twenty three niches provided in the arched recess just behind the cascade. Originally lighted lamps used to be placed at these niches. The second terrace also has abundance of Persian lilacs and pansies coupled with sparkling cascading water over the chute, which provided a lovely sight. Another interesting feature in the Nishat Bagh is of the many marble thrones like setas placed at the head of the waterfall, across the channel.
Nishat Bagh located in the Srinagar District is 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) from the city centre. The nearest Airport is 25-30 kilometres (16-19 mi) away at Humhama. The Airport connects to all major cities of India. Jammu is the nearest Rail Head which is 300 kilometres (190 mi) away. The National Highway NH1A connects the Kashmir valley with rest of the country. One way of visiting the Bagh is through the Dal Lake using the famous "water taxi" of Kashmir, the Shikara.