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Islam is the monotheistic and Abrahamic religion articulated by the Quran, a text considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God.

The reward for good deeds according to the Quran is a place of shaded trees, flowing water, gardens with sweet fruits (Bostan) and fragrant flowers (Gulistan).

Since the arrival of Islam as a religion in the 7th Century, Gardens have been described as a metaphor of Paradise. Every time heaven is mentioned in the holy book of Quran, there is a description of flowing water and fruit bearing trees, signifying their importance to man.

As the religion evolved in a desert climate, Water became the main resource to conserve and utilise in the most optimum way possible.

Rivers with golden banks

Beautiful Sunshine

Fragrant Trees

Shaddy Trees

Dense Trees

Extraordinary Buildings

Perception of heaven with its various Elements

• By the middle of 7th Century , the Muslim Arabs had conquered Persia.

• Gardens in ancient Persia were based on the availability of water. At first gardens were used to grow orchard trees for fruits and shade, as well as for crop sustenance. • Many ideas and methods in Islamic gardens seem to originate from the Persians. • In Islamic history there is really only one formal garden plan, with a few variations in it. This is the so-called chahar-bagh, or the four part garden laid out with axial walkways that intersect the garden in the center. Ascent of Prophet to Paradise

•It is important to remember how much a garden means to those brought up in a HOT AND DRY DESERT CLIMATE than to those brought up in countries having frequent rains. • In these environments, desert nomads and city dwellers viewed WATER as God’s “mercy” and as “life-giving as described in the Qur’an . •They have been inspired from the miraculous effect water(irrigation) has on dead land. •The idea of paradise as a garden within the Islamic context: The key elements are Flowing water, Shade, Exuberant foliage.

• “Gardens underneath which rivers flow”. - water flowing under the pathways to irrigate the flowerbeds, - the nurturing of the ‘garden within’ by the ever-flowing waters of the spirit which purify the soul. •Since the pre-Islamic Arabs completely depended on the oases for their survival. They considered the slightest indication of nature’s greenness to be sacred, and revered nature’s VEGETATION.

•The NUMBER FOUR contains a universal symbolism reflecting the order of the universe –the four cardinal directions and the four elements.

•The Ka’ba, literally ‘cube’, is used to represent the house of God (Bayt Allah) and the centre of the world, emphasizing the solidity of the earth and the four directions. •The layout of any of the famous Islamic Gardens is based on the number four. In India, for example, the Anguri Bagh in Agra (part of the Red Fort) and the Taj Mahal, are both centred on a four-fold design. •The CHAHAR-BAGH can thus be seen as a kind of open-air sacred architecture, analogous to the traditional Arab Islamic house which is built on a FOUR-FOLD PLAN AROUND A CENTRAL COURTYARD. •The Muslim idea of a paradise garden on earth is that it is a private place, secret and hidden away from the world and enclosed on all sides. It corresponds to the interior world, the inner- most soul – al-jannah – means not only ‘garden’ but ‘concealment’. •The courtyard is itself a miniature paradise garden that represents the inward aspect of man. Enclosing the private world of the family, keeping out all dust and providing SHADE.

• In the Qur’an the colour green is mentioned most often which is the colour of Islam in the descriptions of paradise. • The fountain in the centre of the garden or courtyard, representing one of the fountains in paradise (Al-Kawathar, fountain of Abundace), is often set within an octagon. • The octagon is the transitional geometric form between the circle, representing heaven, and the square representing earth. • So the number eight became associated with paradise. Babur, the first Mughal emperor, records in his memoirs(Babarnama) in 1519 “Humayun arrived and waited on me in the garden of the Eight Paradises”. • While the cypress represented eternity and the male principle, the flowering fruit tree represented spring, the female principle and the renewal of life. • The chahar-bagh became the principal symbol of the Qur’anic paradise on earth and it was taken up and developed in most parts of the Islamic world. • The chahar-baghs are founded centred on a spiritual vision of the cosmos. These gardens on earth mirrors of their Heavenly counterparts – aim to put all sacred art to draw the visitor closer to God.


• Chahar bagh: concept of Mandala with four corners which represents ‘wholeness’, an organic entity, a harmonic balance.

• At centre is the ‘source of energy’, which nourishes thought. • The analogue of this energy source is fountain. As water is the central to the life of the garden, the energy source of the mind is central to the life and renewal of human soul.

Shaded Area



Water Plan showing the different rivers flowing, with trees that provide Permanent shade and various fruits to eat

• For the garden to flourish, this ‘water of life’ must be channeled and distributed to all parts of the garden in a balance and harmonious way. “A feature of the paradise which is promised to the god fearing is that there are in it streams of (such) water as will never putrefy (in smell or color), and (in it) will be streams of milk whose taste and flavor will never change and streams of the wine (it has no bad effects, nor does it cause intoxication) that is an absolute delight for those who drink it and streams of purified honey; and (in it) will be fruits of every kind (for them) and forgiveness (of every sort) from their lord.” (12:23)(37:47) Holy Quran.

• A Paradise Garden was based on the classic Char-bagh design, in which the garden was divided into 4 parts by water channels. • The 4 water channels being the 4 rivers of paradise. • Plantation of fruit trees and roses and other flowers lay in geometrically arranged beds below the level of flanking pathways, making irrigation simple and also giving a sensation of walking on a carpet of flowers.

Enclosure, protecting the garden from the harsh climatic conditions

In Islamic history there is really only one formal garden plan, with a few variations in it. This is the so-called chahar-bagh, or the four Garden with four rivers of the and ample shade from the part garden laid out with axial walkways that Paradise, harsh sun, fruit bearing trees and fragrant flowers is created intersect the garden in the center.

4 parts, 4 corners, creation of mandala

Source of energy and life, Water placed at the center of the garden


CAUSES • Strong religious symbolism linked • Climatic purpose- evaporative cooling • Aesthetical purpose- for Psychological tranquility-achieved by the use of water feature and vegetation.

“If I had but two loaves of bread, I would sell one buy hyacinths, which would feed my soul” “Breads feed the body indeed, but, flowers feed also the soul” -Prophet Muhammad

the Mughals (Gardens of Eastern Islamic world)

Historical Background •

The nomad race of the Mongols emerged in AD 1219 from east of the Altai mountains to overrun Asia.

Having no civilization of their own, one group of Mongols adopted the Muslim faith.

In the 14th century the first Mongol invader of India, Tamerlane made his capital Samarkand, a city of contemporary Persian architecture and gardens.

Timur defeats the Sultan of Delhi

Timor feasts in the gardens of Samarkand.

Timor’s descendent BABUR invaded India making Agra his capital in 1526.

Babur's grandson AKBAR expanded and consolidated the Mughal Empire in India. Akbar’s son JAHANGIR inherited fabulous power and wealth with which to indulge his passion for Landscape design

Jahangir’s son SHAHJAHAN had passion for architecture and building, which included the Taj Mahal.

Babur supervising the garden construction

Environmental Conditions •

The Mughals were mainly concerned with two areas : Agra/Delhi and Vale of Kashmir.

Agra lies on the banks of river Yamuna and the climate is tropical with monsoons from June to September and intense heat from march to June.

The natural landscape is flat , jungle treed and featureless except for the river.

The climate of the Kashmir vale is equable and the land fertile, the surrounding snow clad mountains giving abundance of water and protection from the monsoons.

The characteristic trees here are chenar, poplar, willow and orchards.

Soon after Babar captured the city of Agra, he went around to select a suitable site for garden. “One of the great defects of Hindustan being its lack of running water, it kept coming to my mind that water should be made to flow by means of wheels erected wherever I might settle down, also that grounds should be laid out in an orderly and symmetrical way. With this object is view, we crossed the jumna-water (the river Yamuna) to look at garden grounds a few days after entering Agra. Those grounds were so bad and unattractive that we traversed them with a hundred disgusts and repulsions.” (Babarnama, 1979, p. 531) • Babur, described his favourite type of garden as a charbagh. •Ram Bagh or Aram Bagh is the first char bagh garden that Babar built in india.

•India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have number of Mughal Gardens. •Mughal Gardens could be divided as;

Mughal Gardens Tomb Gardens The Mughal Emperors began designing tomb enclosures as gardens.

Pleasure Gardens The Mughals turned out to be the ones who pioneered in garden designing for the purpose of pleasure.





water channel





Cross-sectional representation of main water channel flanked by walkways and lawns of trefoil.

Features of Mughal Gardens • CHAHAR-BAGH structure. • Rectilinear Forms. • Reflective pools, fountains and canals inside the Garden. •Number 8 and 4 were considered auspicious- can be found in no. of terraces or octagonal pools.


• • • • • •

The name Shalimar (abode of love) can be traced back to the Hindu sacred site which stood there before the garden was built. Secondary Water Channel Area- 12.4 hectares, Central Water Shape-Rectangular, Channe Dimensions- 251m x 587m Orientation- NW to SW, with the highest point located along the northeast side. The garden is connected to Lake Dal by a long canal. Shalimar adapts the char bagh to the mountainous topography by emphasizing the central water channel; the secondary channels are minimized or removed from the design, and the source of water shifts from the center of the garden to its highest point.

The central water canal of the garden (shah nahar) forms its main axis, uniting the three terraces with their regularly placed fountains and chinar (sycamore) tree-lined vistas. Beginning at the top of the garden, the canal runs through each of the baradaris (pavilions) in the garden. At each terrace, the canal flows into a larger pool, highlighting its baradari. Within the Shalimar Bagh, each of the three terraces had a different function and level of privacy.

The first terrace garden or the outer garden was the Diwan-eaam (Public Audience Hall).

The second terrace garden was the Diwan-e-Khas (Hall of Private Audience). This garden is a little broader and has two shallow terraces.

The third terrace garden is Zenana. At the entrance of this pavilion are two small pavillions. Shahajahan built a baradari of black marble, called the Black Pavilion in the zenana garden. It is encircled by a fountain pool that receives its supply from a higher terrace.

A double cascade falls against a low wall carved with small niches (chini khanas), behind the pavilion. Two smaller, secondary water canals lead from the Black Pavilion to a small baradari. The Shalimar Bagh is well known for chini khanas, or arched niches, behind garden waterfalls. They are a unique feature in the Bagh. These niches were lighted at night with oil lamps, which gave a fairy tale appearance to the water falls. However, now the niches hold pots of flower pots that reflect their colours behind the cascading water.



The complex is set around a large 300-metre (980 ft) square char bagh

The garden uses raised pathways that divide each of the four quarters of the garden into 16 sunken parterres or flowerbeds.

A raised marble water tank at the center of the garden, halfway between the tomb and gateway with a reflecting pool on a north-south axis, reflects the image of the mausoleum.

The raised marble water tank is called al Hawd alKawthar, in reference to the "Tank of Abundance" promised to Muhammad

The trees of the Taj garden are either that of Cyprus (signifying death) or of the fruit bearing type (signifying life) and even they are arranged in a symmetrical pattern.


Cypress Trees

Water Channel


Gar Firdaus Ruhe Jamin Ast, Hamin Asto Hamin Asto Hamin Ast REFRENCES: 1) The Islamic Garden- Seminar 2011 by Nazia Ansari, CEPT University 2) Gardens of the great Mughals- C. M. Villiers Stuart 3) 4) Meaning of Mughal Landscape- Mr. Sajjad Kausar, NCA, Lahore, Pakistan


2nd Year B.Arch

Amol Wanjari Bhumika Jain Rohit Kumar Ruchita Kanpillewar Shriprada Joshi Soham Munshi Sushant Chandekar Vaishnavi Kundanwar

Anjali Shripad Gaurav Boldhan Nisha Bothra Rani Rebhankar Rani Tarare Sanjana Waghmare Shivani Malewar Simran Sharma Surbhi Bamb Institute of Design Education & Architectural Studies, Nagpur

Islamic gardens  

History and Evolution of Mughal Gardens