Ancient Monuments of Kashmir

by Ram Chandra Kak




The Sankaracharya temple is situated on the summit of the Takht-i-Sulaiman hill, to the south-east of Srinagar (Plate IV). Neither the hill nor the temple preserves its ancient name; in Hindu times the former bore the name of Gopadri, and the latter - or more probably some earlier structure which occupied its place - that of Jyeshthegvara. But the modern name of the hill seems to be of fairly long standing, as it is mentioned by Catrou, and in a slightly altered form (Koh-i-Sulaiman) by Abul Fazl. The temple is built on a high octagonal plinth approached by a long flight of steps enclosed by two side-walls which originally bore two Persian inscriptions. One of these was dated A.H. 1O69 =A.D. 1659. Both inscriptions disappeared some time in the last few decades. The plinth is surmounted by a low parapet wall 23' 6" long on each side, the inner surface of which was originally adorned by a range of eighty-four round-headed recesses enclosed in rectangular panels. The greater part of the wall has now fallen. The shrine consists of a cell, circular inside, with a diameter of 13' 2". Externally it is square with two projecting facets on each side (Plate V). The surface is plain, except for the salient and re-entering angles of the facets. The maximum thickness of the walls in the middle of each facet is 8' 2". The interior of the sanctum is covered by a modern ceiling "composed of flat stone slabs and wooden boards, which rest on two lintels of the same material, themselves supported on four columns in the centre of the room. The south-west column bears two Persian inscriptions, one of which states that the column on which it is engraved was carved by a mason named Bihishti in the year 54 - i.e., A.H. 1054, corresponding to A.D. 1644. The date falls in the reign of Shah Jahan. It is obvious, therefore, that this ceiling with its columns was erected in the time of that king." The original ceiling, which this modern addition has hidden from view, is dome-shaped and built of horizontal courses of kanait or kanjur (a kind of light and porous limestone). The absence of the trefoiled entrance to the sanctum, and similar niches on the other three sides, is remarkable. In this respect, as in the circular interior plan, this temple is similar to the larger temple at Loduv. The brick roof seems to have been constructed within the last century.

The date of this temple has been a source of controversy among archaeologists. General Cunningham and, after him, Lieut. Cole assigned it to the times of Jalauka (whom they date 220 B.C.) on the strength of local tradition. This theory has been rejected, firstly on architectural grounds, and secondly because of the doubtful character of the tradition.

Another theory, advanced by Fergusson, is that the temple was built in the reign of Jahangir. He says that "the temple as it now stands was commenced by some nameless Hindus, in honour of Siva, during the tolerant reign of Jahangir; and that the building was stopped at the date engraved at the staircase, A.H. 1069 (A.D. 1659), the first year of the reign of the bigoted Aurangzeb. It was then unfinished, and has consequently remained a ruin ever since, which may give it an ancient look.'' But Fergusson's conclusion was based on arguments which appear to have little foundation. Among other things the Jesuit Catrou, who published his History of the Mughal Empire in 1708 A.D., only one year after Aurangzeb's death, says that the Kashmiris are descended from the Jews. " Moses is a very common name there; and some Ancient Monuments still to be seen discover 'em to be a People come out of Israel. For instance the ruins of an Edifice built on a high mountain is called at this Day the Throne of Solomon." Again, Bernier, who accompanied Aurangzeb to Kashmir in 1665, writes of the existence of an "extremely ancient building, which bears evident marks of having been a temple for idols, although named Tact-Souliman, the Throne of Solomon." These statements show that as early as the beginning of the reign of Aurangzeb the origin and authorship of the temple were lost in the mists of antiquity. They also prove that the temple had already fallen into disuse and ruin; and its construction, therefore, could not have been begun in the reign of Jahangir and stopped by Aurangzeb.

Kalhana, in his Rajatarangini (i, verse 341), definitely states that king Gopaditya built a shrine of Jyeshthesvara on the Gopadri (modern Takht-i-Sulaiman), but it cannot be asserted with certainty that the present temple is the same as that which was built by Gopaditya. It appears, however, probable that that shrine occupied the same position. Gopadityais date, and consequently that of his buildings, is uncertain. But the conjecture that the present temple must be at least a century or so earlier than that highly finished example of Kashmir architecture, the Martand temple, seems plausible.

To the north of the base is a low cell 10' 8" square, entered through a plain and nearly circular-headed low doorway. The ceiling is flat and built of plain stone slabs placed on long stone joists, which rest on remarkably long beams supported on two octagonal columns.

To the south-east of the temple base, slightly lower down the hill, is a tank 10' 1" square.

In the area in front of the temple are the ruins of two Muslim structures, probably the remains of the small mosque and garden mentioned by Bernier, and belonging perhaps to the reign of Shah Jahan, when the Persian and Arabic inscriptions in the temple were put up.

The temple of Sankaracharya commands one of the finest views in the whole of Kashmir. The view of the city with its green, turfed roofs, covered in the spring with iris, tulip, and a variety of other flowers, is without a doubt unique.


The city of Srinagar can best and most conveniently be seen from the river. The streets are narrow and often muddy. The river and the canals, on the other hand, form a very pleasant means of communication. As the visitor floats down the sluggish streams many objects attract his attention. The large and imposing palaces, the modern temples with tin-plated spires glittering in the sun, the brawny, loquacious boatmen plying their little airy craft, their pretty rosy-cheeked babies sprawling in the bottom, heedless of the shrill warnings of the distracted mothers, the curious cantilever bridges which span the river at short intervals - with these and the multifarious other objects of interest and amusement which usually appeal to the newcomer in Kashmir, the present monograph is not concerned. The attention of the reader is therefore specially invited to the extremely large number of architectural stones belonging to ancient Hindu temples which have now been built into the retaining walls of the river banks.

Between the third and fourth bridges on the right bank stands the Khanqah of Shah Hamadan, or, to give him his proper name, Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani (Plate VI). Tradition ascribes his origin to the city of Hamadan in Persia. Legend further adds that Timur " was one night wandering in disguise about the streets of his capital, Samarkand, and overheard an old man and his wife talking over the prospects of starvation; upon which he took off an armlet, threw it to them, and departed unseen. A pretender Syud, or descendant of the prophet, asked them how they came by the armlet, and accused them of having stolen it. The matter was made known to Timur, who sagaciously decreed that the owner must be the person who could produce the fellow armlet. He then displayed it in his own possession, and ordered the accuser to undergo the ordeal of hot iron, which he refused, and was put to death in consequence. Timur, moreover, put to death all the other pretender Syuds in the country.

One, named Syud Ali or Shah Hamadan, who really was a descendant of the prophet, accused Timur of impiety, and told him that he would not remain in his country; and by virtue of his sanctity he was able to transport himself through the air to Kashmir. He descended where the Masjid now stands, and told the Hindu fakir to depart. He refused, upon which Shah Hamadan said that if he would bring him news from heaven, he would then believe that he was a great man. The fakir, who had the care of numerous images, immediately despatched one of them to heaven, upon which Shah Hamadan kicked his slipper after it with such force that the image fell to the ground. He then asked the fakir how he became so great a man; he replied, by doing charitable actions; upon which Shah Hamadan thought him worthy of being made a convert to Islam; and in a few days so many more followed his example that two and a half kirwahs [kharwar=nearly two maunds] of Juneos, or sacred strings worn by the Brahmans, were delivered up by the Hindu proselytes. The converted fakir himself was called Shyk Baba Wuli [Shaikh Baba Wali], and a penance of forty days performed at his shrine is considered the ne plus ultra of the meritorious.'' Whatever the religious value of this story, it is certain that the Sayyid must have been a personage of great importance, inasmuch as a number of shrines throughout the valley have been dedicated to his memory.

It is difficult to determine the date of the present structure, but it is practically certain that it does not belong to the time traditionally ascribed to the migration of Sayyid Ali Hamadani to Kashmir. Baron von Hugel, who visited Kashmir in 1835, speaks of it as a modern-looking building. But there is no doubt that a mosque or some such religious edifice stood here at least as early as the reign of Akbar; for Abul Fazl in his Ain-i-Akbari says that " Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani resided for some time in this city (Srinagar), and a monastery founded by him still preserves his name."

Apart from the cloisters, which have been added later, and the additions and alterations that are being carried on by its present-day caretakers, the original building is a square structure. Its chief structural peculiarity is that it is for the most part built of wooden balks. The spaces between the balks are filled by very small and carefully dressed bricks. Some of the doors and windows are beautiful examples of wood carving, and the wooden cornice of the plinth is an exquisite piece of workmanship.

The interior consists of a single large hall 63' by 43'. On the southern and northern sides are fourteen chambers which now serve the purpose of godowns. The one in the north-west corner contains the tomb of the saint. The only decoration in the interior is the very beautiful panelled wood-work on the walls, to which age has imparted a rich brown colour. The dado consists of a number of panels decorated with carved floral patterns. The larger panels in the walls bear carved on them the names of God, which have been painted in gold. A strong contrast with the sombre hue of the walls is furnished by the glass and glazed work which decorates the external surface of the chamber containing the mausoleum.

The ceiling is supported in the centre on four wooden columns, covered with pieces of wood arranged in fish-bone patterns which originally bore painted inscriptions. Their bases have been carved with lotus leaves, and their capitals, which are sixteen-sided, are adorned with acanthus (?) Ieaf decoration.

Two ladders at the sides give access to thle balconies above. The upper floor does not possess any points of interest.

Over the doorway of the shrine is carved an inscription which gives 786 Hijra as the year of Shah Hamadan's death. This date corresponds to A. D. 1384.


" Of the Mughal style as exemplified by buildings in Kashmir it is not necessary to say much, because the style is practically the same as that at Agra, Delhi, and Lahore. The only differences which suggest themselves are that a local grey limestone was generally used in Kashmir for face work; and white marble, owing no doubt to the difficulties of transport, is hardly ever seen.'' This stone is an excellent material for mouldings and for carving, and is capable of receiving a very high polish, as is testified by the pillars in the pavilion at Shalimar. Of the Mughal mosques in Kashmir, the Patthar Masjid, "The Stone Mosque," so called in contradistinction to the indigenous wooden mosques of the valley, is the largest surviving example (Plate VII). The facade consists of nine arches, including the large arched portico in the centre. The arched openings are enclosed in shallow decorative cusped arches, which in their turn are enclosed in rectangular frames. The horizontal construction of these arches is remarkable. All of them have recently been closed up with rubble stone masonry.

The half-attached " bedpost " columns in the two outer angles of the jambs of the entrance are noteworthy. The plinth, which is now mostly underground, is surmounted by a lotus-leaf coping.

The frieze between the projecting cornice and the eaves is decorated with a series of large lotus leaves, carved in relief, some of which have been pierced, and thus made to serve the purpose of ventilation apertures. A flight of steps in each jamb of the entrance gives access to the roof, which is, as usual in Kashmir, sloping, except in the centre, where there was originally a dome which was later dismantled by the Sikhs. The roof consists of twenty-seven domes, the central one of which is the largest. The domes are mostly ribbed inside, though there are some which are flat or waggon-vaulted.

The roof is supported internally on eighteen extraordinarily massive square columns having projections on two sides. The lower portion of the columns is built of stone and the upper of brick covered by a thick coat of buff-coloured lime plaster.

The enclosure wall is built of brick masonry, with a coat of lime plaster, adorned by a range of shallow arched niches.

The mosque is said to have been built in A.D. 1623 by the Empress Nur Jahan. There is a tradition that, being once questioned regarding the cost of its construction, she pointed to her jewelled slippers and replied, "As much as that." The jest was reported to the mullahs, who unanimously decreed that by this sacrilegious allusion the mosque had become desecrated, and was unfit for religious use. For this reason the Patthar Masjid has never been used as a place of prayer.


A couple of furlongs lower down the river, between the fourth and the fifth bridges, is the Sri Ranbir Ganj, the busiest and most important trading mart in Kashmir. Near it are seen the high and massive domes of the tomb of the mother of Zain-ul-abidin, towering far above the gabled roofs of the surrounding houses (Plate VIII).

The most attractive chapter in the history of the Muslim rule in Kashmir is the reign of Zain-ul-abidin (1421-1472). He was a patron of the arts and industries, and as tolerant to his Hindu subjects as his father, Sikandar But-shikan, was bigoted. But though he is said to have occasionally made pilgrimages to Hindu shrines, he does not seem to have scrupled in using Hindu remains for his own purposes. The superstructure alone of his mother's tomb was erected by him. The plinth with its filleted torus cornice is entirely Hindu (Plate LXXIV); so is the trefoiled entrance and its still undisturbed massive jambs. In plan it is square, with the angles cut off and replaced by rectangular projections. The superstructure follows the same plan, and consists of a single chamber in the middle with projections recessed internally at the angles, roofed over by five domes, the largest naturally being in the centre.

" Its principal features are the glazed and moulded blue bricks, which are studded at intervals in the exterior walls, the semicircular brick projections, on the drum of the main dome, and the moulded string-courses and sunk panels on the drums of the cupolas."

The wooden lintels of the ventilation apertures are remarkably well preserved.

Inside, hanging from an iron plate attached to the apex of the central dome, is an iron chain which has given rise to the misconception, common among the Hindus of Kashmir, that the structure in its present shape was originally a Panchamukha (five-faced or fiveheaded) temple, such chains being usually found in Hindu shrines, attached to the principal bell.

Immediately to the north of this building is a Hindu enclosure wall with gateway, which contains a number of tombs, one of which is said to preserve the remains of the king himself. This wall, like that of the Sankaracharya temple, has been the object of much controversy. Cunningham and Cole ascribed it to a date as early as the fourth or fifth century A.D. This theory was contested by Fergusson, who, on the strength of the resemblance of the miniature arches which decorate this wall to similar decorative features in Muslim architecture, maintained that it was built by the Muslims themselves at the time they erected the mausoleum. But it is probable that Cunningham and Cole, who actually saw it, were nearer the truth than Fergusson, who judged only from photographs. The wall is a real Hindu one, as its materials and massiveness amply prove, though it is undoubtedly later than the fifth century A.D. A further proof of its Hindu origin is the number of carved stones still found round the site, which bear sculptured reliefs of Hindu deities.

The whole group is enclosed in a massive stone wall with a ridged coping.

This outer wall, as well as its two entrances, one on the riverside and the other opening on the road, likewise date back to Hindu times.

Since the time of Zain-ul-abidin this enclosure has been used as a cemetery, and many of the notabilities of Muslim Kashmir are interred here, among them the famous Tartar invader Mirza Haidar Gurgan, the cousin of Babar, who made his first raid into Kashmir from Turkistan and occupied it a second time in the name of Humayun, during the latter's exile from Hindustan. The following inscription on his tombstone gives the date of his death (A.H. 958= A.D. 1551).

Shah Gurgan Mirza Haidar akhir
Ba mulke shahadat zadah kus-i shahi
Qaza-e Ilahi chunin bud-o tarikh
Shuda bahr-i vaslash, Qaza-e Ilahi.
Translation: " At last the King Mirza Haidar Gurgan beat his royal drum (to announce his departure) for the realm of martyrdom. Such was the will of God and (even) the date of his union (with God) is contained in (the phrase) ' will of God."'


Less than half a mile from the ruins described above, on the way to the Jama' Masjid by way of Safa Kadal, is another enclosure with a structure in the centre, which is now doing duty as the tomb of Pir Haji Muhammad, a Muslim saint. In plan it is similar to the tomb of Zain-ul-abidin's mother, the only difference being that this has two flights of steps facing east and west, and the latter has only one, which faces west. There is no doubt that the plinth and the corners of the superstructure, as they are at present, are in their original position, and have never been tampered with.

The spaces between the stone pilasters at the corners have been filled in with screen walls of kanjur masonry, the larger sides of which are decorated externally with three closed panels. This appears to have been a later addition. A curious fact about this structure is that the two flights of steps are also later additions, though undoubtedly they have been transplanted from some Hindu site. Proof for this conjecture is furnished by the fact that the cornice of the plinth, a cyma recta, is not bonded with the masonry of the stairs, and that carved stones evidently not originally intended for the purpose have been used in the steps.

In the eastern corner of the courtyard is a smaller enclosure partitioned off from the main area; this also contains a trefoiled niche and some fluted columns.

There is a small square Muslim brick tomb within the compound wall.

The position of these ruins suggested to Sir Aurel Stein their " possible identity with the temple of Vishnu Ranasvamin which Kalhana mentions as founded by King Ranaditya. This temple must have enjoyed considerable celebrity up to a comparatively late period.''


The history of the Jama' Masjid of Srinagar is a singularly chequered one. Its original conception and erection are ascribed to Sikandar But-shikan, who reigned in Kashmir from A.D. 1390-91 to 1414-15. He is said to have laid its foundation in A.D. 1398 and completed it in 1402. His illustrious son Zain-ul-abidin is reported to have greatly exerted himself in adding to its aesthetic attractions. He also established an Islamic school as an appendage to the mosque, and endowed it with estates to enable it to defray the cost of maintenance. In A.D. 1479 a large conflagration reduced it to ashes, and the then reigning sovereign, Sultan Hasan Shah, set about its reconstruction with greater splendour. Unfortunately the king died before completing his task, which was brought to a successful end in A.D. 1503 by Ibrahim Magre, Commander-in-Chief of the Kashmir forces, in the reigns of Muhammad Shah and Fateh Shah. In the year I620, in the reign of Jahangir, a severe conflagration again broke out in Srinagar and destroyed twelve thousand buildings, among them the Jama' Masjid. The emperor, who is stated to have been in Kashmir at the time, immediately directed its reconstruction, which was taken in hand and completed in the space of seventeen years. Malik Haidar of Tsodur, the historian of Kashmir, was entrusted with the execution of the work. The inscription on the southern entrance, which was erected about this time, gives the history of the mosque up to this date. In addition to restoration of the mosque the emperor bestowed munificent grants of land, not only for its upkeep, but also to provide subsistence allowance for the caretakers. I'taqad Khan, a provincial governor of Kashmir during the reign of Shah Jahan, was a gross tyrant. The emperor on a visit to Kashmir dismissed him, and appointed Zafar Khan, the son of the Prime Minister, Asaf Khan, as his successor. The latter drew up a list of the irregularities practised in Kashmir by his predecessor, and submitted it to the emperor, who in a royal farman, or decree, directed remission of all the petty exactions which the former local governors had inflicted upon the inhabitants of the valley. The royal farman was engraved on a block of black marble and set up on the right wall of the southern gateway of the Jama' Masjid, for the benefit of the public. The document is of extraordinary interest, not only because it illustrates the ways and means to which some unscrupulous governors, gifted with more ingenuity than conscience, had recourse in their haste to amass a fortune, but also as an honourable testimony to the emperor's solicitude for the welfare of his distant Himalayan dependency.

In A.D. I674 the mosque was for the third time destroyed by fire. It is stated that when the emperor Aurangzeb heard of the accident, his first enquiry was whether the chinars were safe; for he said " the mosque could be rebuilt in a short time; a full-grown chinar can never be quickly replaced." He impressed all the bricklayers and masons of the city into his service, and had the mosque completed within the short period of three years. In his restoration it is evident, both from the building itself and on the authority of history, that the Mughal strictly adhered to the plan of the original mosque of Sikandar Butshikan. Aurangzeb seems to have spent a considerable sum of money on gilding and other evanescent embellishment of - the mosque.

From the time of Aurangzeb down to 1914 the structural history of the mosque is a record of steady decay. The fitful repairs by the Afghan governors did not arrest its downward progress to ruin. In the earlier part of the Sikh regime in Kashmir the mosque was closed and its doors were blocked up. After a period of twenty-one years, it was reopened by Ghulam Muhi-ud-din, the Sikh Governor, who spent nearly a lakh and a half of rupees on its repair. In Dogra times attempts were more than once made to put it into repair, but they do not seem to have led to any appreciable result. Since the year 1913, however, the Muslims of Kashmir, substantially aided by a grant from His Highness's Government, have put forth their best energies for the achievement of the difficult task, and it has recently been brought to a successful conclusion.

The mosque is a quadrangle and roughly square in plan, its northern and southern sides being 384' in length. Its principal features are the four minars, one in the middle of each side (Plate IX). They are covered by a series of pyramidal roofs, which terminate in an open turret crowned by a high pinnacle (Plate X). All these minars, except that to the west, which contains the pulpit, cover spacious arched entrances which are plain but very imposing. The southern entrance seems, as now, to have always been the one most commonly used. This is borne out by the fact that the inscriptions - among them Shah Jahan's farman, which would naturally be placed at the most frequented spot in the mosque - have been built into the wall of this entrance. The roof of each minar was supported on eight wooden columns, 50' in height and over 6' in girth, whose modern substitutes still stand on the original square limestone bases. The columns are plain and unornamented. The minars are connected by spacious halls, the principal feature of which is the vast array of 378 wooden columns which support the roof.

The western minar differs from its companions of the other three sides in having slightly larger dimensions and two stairs, one in each jamb of the arch, giving access to the roof and each surmounted by a small brick dome. The gachh (gypsum) plaster is inartistic and of recent date.

The compound is bisected by two broad paths, planned after the manner of a formal Mughal garden. At the point of their intersection has been built a small and insignificant barahdari.

Formerly a small canal which entered through the eastern entrance used to feed the large, but now dilapidated, tank in the compound. The canal fell into disuse when the Srinagar waterworks system was instituted. Its place is now taken by an ordinary P.W.D. water-supply. The water from the tank flows down a small ornamental stone chute, and passing out of the channel leaves the mosque by an underground passage in the west wall. After a meandering course of a quarter of a mile the pretty little rill, now replaced by the usual gutters, emptied itself into the Mar canal. The streamlet was in existence as recently as thirty years ago, and bore the name of Lachhma-kul. It was originally brought from the Sindh by King Zain-ul-abidin, and its first name was Zaina-Ganga.

The most charming feature of the compound, apart from the singularly imposing aspect of the arcaded front of the halls, is a group of shady chinars, which tradition assigns variously to Zain-ul-abidin's and Hasan Shah's reigns. But there seems to be little doubt that some, if not all of them, are of more recent growth.


The hill of Hari Parbat (Plate XI), crowned by the Pathan fort which is visible from every part of the city, has from time immemorial been a place of great sanctity in Kashmir. The name is the Kashmiri equivalent of the Sanskrit sarika-parvata, "the hill of Sarika" (har= Indian maina). Legend, corroborated by modern science, informs us that the valley was, in prehistoric times, a vast lake, which must have been one of the most beautiful in the world. In this lake dwelt the water-demon Jalodbhava. The Sarikamahatmya tells us, circumstantially, the story of the defeat and destruction of this demon: how the monster wrought havoc among the mountains of the adjacent districts, but being invulnerable in his own element, and declining to fight at a disadvantage on land, continued his life of depredation in impudent security for a long time; how the gods fumed and stormed in impotent rage, and finally resolved to lay the matter before the Almighty Mother Sati, the controller of the titanic forces of nature; how she assumed the form of a Sarika bird (maina) and taking a pebble in her beak dropped it at the spot where she knew the demon was lying, lulled into false security; and finally how the pebble swelled into gigantic proportions and crushed the demon by its weight. The pebble to this day survives under the name of Hari Parbat, and a depression in the ground outside the Sangin Darwaza of the fort wall is pointed out as the spot wherefrom the panting breath of the demon forced its way out, as he was struggling under the crushing weight over him. The legend adds that the gods in grateful memory of their deliverance took up their abode here, which accounts for the fact that every individual stone, large and small, on this hill is reverenced by the orthodox Brahmans as the representative of one of the thirty-three crores of gods which comprise the Hindu pantheon.

In modern times, both Hindus and Muslims have appropriated parts of the hill for their shrines; but neither the shrine of Chakresvari nor the ziarat of Makhdum Sahib possesses any architectural interest. The fort which crowns the summit is a commonplace structure (Plate XI), but this cannot be said of Akbar's rampart and its gates, Kathi Darwaza and Sangin Darwaza, and the mosque of Akhun Mulla Shah, which are well worth a visit. The rampart, which is for the most part in ruins, is nearly 3 miles in circumference. The Kathi Darwaza seems to have been the principal entrance, judging from the fact that the inscriptions have been put up only here. It is a very simple structure, comprising a domed chamber in the middle with two side-recesses. Its only external decorations are rectangular and arched panels and two beautiful medallions, in high relief, on the spandrels of the arch.

Akbar's inscription runs as follows:

Bina-e qila'-e Nagar-Nagar bud
Ba 'ahad-e padshah-e dad-gustar
Sar-e Shahan-i 'alam Shah Akbar
T'ali Shanahu Allah-u Akbar
Shahanshah-e ki dar 'alam misalash
Na bud ast-o na khwahad bud digar
Karor-o dah lakh az makhzan firistad
Du sad ustad Hindi jumla chakar
Na kardah hechkas bigar anja
Tamami yaftand az makhzanash zar
Chil-o char az julusi padshahi
Hazar-o shash zi tarikh-e payambar.
Translation: The foundation of the fort of Nagar-Nagar was laid in the reign of the just sovereign, the king of kings, Akbar, unparalleled among the kings of the world, past or future. He sent one crore and ten lakhs (of rupees) from his treasury and two hundred Indian master-builders, all his servants. No one was forced to work without remuneration. All obtained their wages from his treasury. (In the) forty-fourth year after the accession of the Emperor (and) 1006 after the prophet.

The second inscription was erected by the officer in charge of the works and runs as follows:

Bina-e qila'-e Nagar-Nagar ba-'aun Allah
Ba hukm-i Shah-i Jahan Zilallah Akbar Shah
Ba sa'ye Mir Muhammad Husain gasht tamam
Haqir banda-e az banda-ha-e Akbar Shah
Dawam-i daulat-i in Shah ta abat bata
Ba haqq-i Shahidan La-ilaha-il-allah.
Translation: The foundation of the fort of Nagar Nagar was completed, by favour of the Almighty, under orders of the king of the world, Shadow of God, Emperor Akbar, and through the instrumentality of Mir Muhammat Hussain, the least among the servants of King Akbar. May the prosperity of this king enture for ever, through the grace of the martyrs of the Faith. There is no Got but God.

The Sangin Darwaza, "the stone gate," differs from Kathi Darwaza in being more ornate. The exterior is decorated by two corbelled windows, and there are two stairs, one on each side, which give access to the roof.

According to tradition, which is still living, the construction of the Hari Parbat, or, as Akbar named it, Nagar-Nagar, rampart was started as a relief work, to alleviate the distress of the people during a famine. The historian Suka states that the emperor, on hearing of the hardship inflicted upon the citizens by the troops, who for want of accommodation had been quartered upon them, had a cantonment built on the slopes of the Hari Parbat hill, which from that time became a fiourishing settlement. Bernier, who saw it three-quarters of a century later, speaks of it as "an isolated hill, with handsome houses on its declivity, each having a garden."


The little mosque situated a little way up the hill below the shrine of Makhdum Sahib was built by the crown prince Dara Shikoh, son of Shah Jahan, for his tutor Akhun Mulla Shah (Plate XII). It is built of a beautiful grey limestone. The stone lotus finial over the pulpit is the only example of its kind surviving in Kashmir. The only external decorations are the rectangular panels enclosing cusped arches. " Its plan is singular, the design of the prayer chamber being repeated on the east side of the courtyard and forming the gateway. On the north and the south sides of the courtyard are arcades, treated in the same way as the wings of the prayer chamber. Usually the arcades round the quadrangle in front of a mosque are treated quite differently from any part of the prayer chamber. The somewhat cramped proportions of the courtyard in this case may be due to the slope of the hill on which it stands, and the difficulty which would have been experienced in making the prayer chamber wider.''

On a lower level are the ruins of the arched halls wherein pilgrims used to lodge. A little further off is the hammam, which is now closed up. On the lintel of its doorway is the following inscription:

Tarikh-i hammam-o masjid-i Sultan Dara Shikoh
Hammam-i tu o masjidat ai dida baz
Garm ast yake yake jama'at pardaz
Tarikh-i bina-i har du ra goyad Shah
Yak ja-i wazu amad-o yak ja-i namaz.
Translation: The date of the construction of the hammam and the mosque of Sultan Dara Shikoh.

Thy hammam and thy mosque: one affords warmth and the other adorns the congregation. The king tells the date of the foundation of both: the one is the place of ablution and the other the place of worship.

The last line contains the chronogram giving the date, A.H. 1059, corresponding to A.D. 1649.


Outside the rampart at a distance of less than two furlongs from the mosque of Akhun Mulla Shah is the cemetery of Baha-ud-din Sahib. It contains numerous Hindu remains, among them the ruins of a massive gateway standing near the entrance, which is traditionally believed to be a part of the " Pravaresa " temple built by Pravaresena II. It also contains the graves of some of the most prominent personages of Muslim Kashmir. One of the tombstones bears a bilingual Sanskrit and Arabic inscription which mentions the name of Muhammad Shah, the puppet ruler who was made king and dethroned no less than four times.


Among the pre-Mughal Muslim buildings of Kashmir, one of the most prominent is the mosque of Madin Sahib at Zadibal. It is also interesting as it shows to perfection the way in which the early Muslims used the materials of the Hindu temples. The group of buildings at Vitsarnag and a number of others strewn about the city belong to this series.

The base is square and is built entirely of materials belonging to a plinth of a mediaeval temple. Even the arrangement of courses is identical with that of the ordinary temple base. The superstructure consists of four walls, adorned externally with trefoiled brick niches. The upper foil is pointed, but in the case of the doorway it is ogee-shaped. The corner pilasters of the walls as well as pilasters of the niches stand upon bases, and are surmounted by capitals which are purely Hindu in style. The spandrels of the arches of the niches are decorated with beautiful tracery work. Their entablature is distinctly Hindu. The cornice over the walls is composed of half a dozen courses of wood, the most prominent feature of which is the double series of dentils and metopes, the latter bearing delicate open-work carving. Above these are the eaves, which are adorned with a row of wooden tongues projecting downwards. The chamber is covered by a pyramidal earth and birch-bark roof overgrown with a jungle of white and blue irises. On the apex of the pyramid was the spire, the only remnants of which that exist are a single long upright pole and a few pieces of timber. The entrance to the mosque is, of course, through the east wall. The wooden doorway is elaborately carved, and is flanked by two fluted stone columns originally belonging to the adjoining Hindu ruins. The interior is plain. The ceiling of khatamband (thin pieces of wood worked into geometrical patterns) is supported on four multi-sided wooden columns.

To the north of the mosque is the tomb of the saint. In ancient times it must have presented a brilliant spectacle, as its entire wall surface was decorated with glazed tiles, most of which have unfortunately been removed and sold out of Kashmir. A few fragments are preserved in the Pratap Singh Museum, Srinagar. When Nicholls of the Archaeological Survey of India visited Kashmir in 1905, he found considerable portions of the tile decoration in good preservation. The left spandrel of the entrance arch was adorned with a very well executed representation of a beast with the body of a leopard, changing at the neck into the trunk of a human being, shooting apparently with a bow and arrow at its own tail, while a fox is quietly looking on among flowers and " cloud-forms." The "cloud-forms " are common in Chinese and Persian art. The principal beast in the picture is about 4 feet long, and strikes quite an heraldic attitude. The human chest, shoulders, and head are unfortunately missing. The tail ends in a kind of dragon's head. As for the colours, the background is blue, the trunk of the man is red, the leopard's body is yellow with light green spots, the dragon's head and the fox are reddish-brown, the flowers are of various colours. Besides the spandrels there is more tile-work in the building. The jambs of the archway are lined with squares, many of which have fallen out and been put back in the wrong place. None of these is of any special interest, except that they show that tile-work was used on masonry buildings in Kashmir before Mughal days. There is, however, an interesting narrow border above the dado on the east facade representing a flowing floral pattern interwoven with the heads of donkeys and lions.

Both the tomb and the mosque were built in memory of the same person, and the inscription on the lintel of the entrance of the mosque records the date of its erection as A.H. 888 (A.D. 1483) in the reign of Zain-ul-abidin. The tomb may have been built a few years later, though it is not impossible that it was built at the same time as the mosque, for among Muslims the practice of building tombs during the lifetime of their future occupants is not uncommon.

Around these two structures, and on the way between them and the Sangin Darwaza of the fort, there are numerous Hindu remains, all of which have grievously suffered at the hands of the iconoclast. Many of them have been converted into mosques, though even these latter have now fallen into desuetude.


The valley of Kashmir provided a magnificent field for the garden-planning genius of the Imperial Mughals. Its salubrity of climate, its inexhaustible supply of water, its grassy alluvial mountain slopes, presented opportunities which the emperor's certainly did not neglect. Some of the most charming spots in a valley which itself has deservedly obtained the title of the " Paradise of the Indies " were selected as royal pleasure haunts; and during the four successive reigns of the greatest of the Mughal emperors a series of splendid gardens was constructed, which are famous in the world for their natural charm and beauty of environment. Among the gardens on the banks of the Dal, Chashma-i-Shahi, Nishat, and Shalimar are the best preserved and most frequented. Remains of other gardens exist, but they are far too ruinous to merit the attention of the modern visitor; among these perhaps the most notable was the Bagh-i-Nagin, the garden of Akbar. Nasim, situated opposite to the Shalimar Bagh, contains a splendid park of shady old chinars.


This is the smallest, though not on that account the least attractive, of the Mughal gardens of Kashmir. It is situated at a distance of five and a half miles from Srinagar, a little less than a mile off the road to Nishat. The conformation of the ground round about shows that the garden can never have been large, but there is evidence to prove that it was not as circumscribed as it is now. The two barahdaris as well as the surrounding wall and the side entrance belong to recent times. The cascades, the plinths of the barahdaris, the water-courses, tanks, and fountains, are genuine Mughal works, save, of course, for the restorations. The lowest terrace has a tank in the centre containing five fountains arranged as a quincunx. A flight of steps on each side of the barahdari leads up to the second terrace and to the ground-floor of the barahdari itself. This is one of the most favoured haunts of tourists in spring and early summer, for the view it commands of the Dal lake is one of the most charming that can be had anywhere, at any rate among those which are easy of access. In spring, when the fields of the blossoming rape-seed flank the verdant hill slopes with gold; when the snow-capped mountains are being ceaselessly washed by melting snows and frequent showers; when in sunny intervals white masses of downy clouds are seen floating majestically in the translucent azure of the sky, their shadows trailing after them as if caught by the sharp mountain peaks; when the lake is free from weeds and reeds - beardless, as the Kashmiris call it - and its two small islets of Rupalank and Sonalank, the Chahar-chinar, are like two emeralds set in the sapphire shield of the Dal; when vast patches of the slopes of the Chashma-i-Shahi hill and the Hari Parbat are covered with red and white almond blossoms, the fortunate spectator stands entranced as he gazes out of the arch of the barahdari, his feelings lulled by the gentle murmur of the little fountain that plays in the centre of the hall.

The tank in the second terrace contains only one fountain and a small carved chute, down which the water of the channels in the upper terraces comes rippling joyously. All these fountains, channels, and cascades are fed by the real Chashma-i-Shahi, a truly " royal " spring, which perennially gives forth its wealth of the coolest and purest water in a lotus basin built in the centre of a Mughal platform. The pavilion which covers it is unusually ugly and dilapidated. According to an inscription said to have been put up at the gateway, the garden was constructed in the reign of Shah Jahan, probably by the emperor himself. The exact wording of the verse which contained the date is as follows:

Guftamash bahr-i Chashma tarikhe,
Guft bar go kausar-i Shahi.
Translation: " I enquired of him regarding the date of the spring; he replied, ' say kausar-i shahi ' (the royal spring)."

The term kausar-i-shahi is synonymous with Chashma-i-Shahi, and according to the abjad system of reckoning gives the Hijra year l042, corresponding with A.D. 1632-33.


The striking group of arched terraces perched higher up on the mountain slope to the west of Chashma-i-Shahi is Pari Mahal, " the fairies' abode," a ruined garden palace, the construction of which is ascribed by tradition to the ill-starred prince Dara Shikoh, who was beheaded in 1659 by order of his brother Aurangzeb. Despite its dilapidated condition, it is easy to determine its principal features; for the garden has, probably owing to its difficulty of access, escaped the restoration to which the other Mughal gardens in Kashmir have been subjected. Pari Mahal differs from other Kashmir gardens in that it does not possess any cascades or water chutes, though it seems probable that there were fountains in the tanks. Water was mainly conducted by underground earthen pipes, though a few traces of open water-courses have also been found. The garden consists of six terraces, with a total length of about 400'. The width of the terraces varies from 179' to 205'.

In the uppermost terrace are the ruins of two structures, a barahdari facing the lake, and a water reservoir built against the mountainside. The reservoir was fed from above by a spring, which has since gone dry, and of which the only extant remains are the fragmentary stone conduit and the retaining wall against the hill-side. It is a simple chamber, built of rubble stones in lime, with a facade of two small arches. Internally it measures 11' 3" by 5', and has a recess in each of its walls. Water flowed through an arched drain pierced in the front wall which is now partially blocked up. At each corner of the terrace wall is a flight of steps leading to the lower terrace, measuring 22' 3" by 4' 3" . In the middle of the second terrace exactly in front of the barahdari is a large tank with brick sides measuring 39' 6" by 26' 6". The facade of the retaining wall is ornamented with a series of twenty-one arches, including two of the side-stairs. The arches are built in descending order of height from the centre. Each of them is surmounted by a niche, the height of which increases in proportion to decrease in the height of the arch. The central arch is covered with a coat of fine painted plaster, which seems to have always served as a favourite board for scribbling notices in pen and pencil. Various people have recorded on this the date of their visit to the garden. Among them was the cruel Azad Khan, a Pathan Governor. His amanuensis, Malik Sabir Munshi, has scribbled the following sentence in black ink:

" Batarikhi bist-o nuhum mahi Rabi-us-sani s. 1199 .... Ittifaq bahamrahi sawari kasir-ul-iqtidar Sardar Azad Khan nazim-i soba-i Kashmir mutabiq sair-o shihr warid-i in makan farhat asar gardidah " Faqir haqir Malik Sabir Munshi.

Translation: ''On the 29th of Rabi-us-sani s. 1199 (A.D.1784-85) the humble mendicant Malik Sabir Munshi visited this abode of bliss in the suite of the most honourable Sardar Azad Khan, Governor of the Province of Rashmir, while (he was) on an expetition for pleasure and sport."

This terrace seems to have been screened off from the lower court by a parapet wall, which is still extant in parts.

The third terrace is, architecturally, the most interesting portion of the garden. The entrance, which is of the usual Mughal type, arched in front and behind with a central domed chamber, is in the middle of the east wall, and is covered with a coat of fine painted plaster. On either side of it are a series of spacious rooms: the one to its north seems to have been the hammam. Fragments of the water-pipe are still to be seen projecting from a corner of its domed ceiling. Its interior is the most highly decorated of all the rooms in Pari Mahal. On the south side of the entrance are two other chambers, but it is difficult to say to what use they were put. Both of them have pipes inserted into their ceilings, the one nearest the gateway having only one, but the other, two; possibly the latter chamber was used as a kitchen. The western half of the retaining wall has recently fallen; doubtless it also contained chambers similar to those on the other side.

In the central recess of the arcade is visible the originally hidden earthen pipe which conveyed water from the terrace above. From it the water flowed through an open channel and an underground pipe, which ran side by side, and entered the barahdari at the middle of the broad end of the terrace. In all probability the channel formed a tank in the centre of the principal chamber and then emptied itself into the pipe which ran underground, of which traces are still visible on the floor of the barahdari.

It is probable that these three terraces were reserved solely for the prince's private use.

The fourth terrace has nothing remarkable in it except the ruins of the tank - perhaps it was a tank within a barahdari - whose plinth projects far beyond the line of the wall. About the middle of its north wall is the earthen pipe which conducted water to the terrace below.

In the fifth terrace a curious feature of the plinth of the barahdari, or the tank, of the upper terrace is the numerous square holes with which the upper half of its surface is perforated. They were probably intended to harbour flocks of pigeons. The retaining wall is arcaded. The arcade is a double one, the upper row of arches faced a corridor which ran on both sides of the plinth of the barahdari.

The sixth and the last terrace has a rectangular tank in the middle and octagonal bastions at the ends. The lower end is not supported by any retaining wall.

The ruined structure a few yards below seems to have been intended for a kind of a guard house.


Returning from the Chashma-i-Shahi to the main road, the visitor proceeds 2 1/2 miles to Nishat Bagh. This is the most favoured resort of pieasure-seekers in Kashmir. " Its twelve terraces, one for each sign of the zodiac, rise dramatically high and higher up the mountain-side from the eastern shore of the lake. The stream tears foaming down the carved cascades, and fountains play in every tank and water-course, filling the garden with their joyous life and movement. The flower beds on these sunny terraces blaze with colour - roses, lilies, geraniums, asters, gorgeous tall-growing zinnias, and feathery cosmos, pink and white. Beautiful at all times, when autumn lights up the poplars in clear gold and the big chenars burn red against the dark blue rocky background, there are few more brilliant, more breathlessly entrancing sights than this first view of Asaf Khan's Garden of Gladness '' (Plate XIII).

The lowest terrace has unfortunately been cut off by the modern road, which has likewise shorn Shalimar of part of its length. The two wooden doorways as well as the gaudily painted barahdari on the third terrace are innovations which date from the time of Wazir Pannu's governorship of Kashmir in the reign of the late Maharaja Ranbir Singhji. These Mughal gardens of Kashmir owe a heavy debt of gratitude to this gentleman, if not for restoring them to their original grandeur, at any rate for arresting their further decay. He also repaired them thoroughly according to his lights; and if his barahdaris and porticoes do not bear comparison with similar structures of the Mughals, not he but the times to which he belonged are responsible.

The brightest and most fragrant spot in the garden is undoubtedly the second terrace, with its thick groves of Persian lilacs, its high, broad, and vertical cascade of sparkling water, and its beds of brilliant pansies. The twenty-three small niches in the arched recess immediately behind the cascade were originally intended to contain rows of lamps, whose flickering light, reflected and multiplied in the transparent sheet of water behind which they lay, must have presented a singularly pleasing spectacle at night.

Two flights of stone steps which survive from the date of their original construction give access to the third terrace. The barahdari is a two-storied structure. In the middle of the lower floor " is a reservoir about fourteen feet square and three feet deep, with five fountains, the one in the centre being the only old stone fountain left in the garden. On a summer day there are few more attractive rooms than the fountain hall of this Kashmir garden house. The gay colours of the carved woodwork shine through the spray in delightful contrast with the dull green running water. Through a latticed arch a glimpse is caught of the brilliant garden terraces and their waterfalls flashing white against the mountain side. Looking over the lake which glitters below in the sunshine, the views of the valley are bounded by the distant snow-capped peaks, the far country of the Pir Panjal. Climbing roses twine about the painted wooden pillars, and nod their creamy flowers through the openings of the lattice. All the long afternoon a little breeze ruffles the surface of the lake and blows in the scent of the flowers, mingling it with the drifting fountain spray; for the terrace below the pavilion is planted after the old custom with a thicket of Persian lilac.''

Here begins the long series of open terraces each rising higher than the one preceding it - which terminates in the eleventh terrace at the upper end of the garden. They are bisected by a broad watercourse, which on certain days in the week is converted into a bounteous stream with numerous fountains playing in its midst, saturating the atmosphere with their driving spray. A feature of this garden are the beautiful marble thrones which span the water-courses at intervals. These are now, as they undoubtedly were in Mughal times, the favourite seats of visitors to the garden. The tank in the eleventh terrace contains a group of twenty-five fountains. From this terrace a flight of stone steps leads to the last, and, in the eyes of its Mughal founder, Asaf Khan, the most sacred part of the garden, the zenana enclosure. The low parapet wall which screened this terrace from the remainder of the garden is still in existence. At the upper end of the footpath near the pavilion is a remnant of the original brick pavement. An octagonal tower is built at each end of the retaining wall of the terrace, and contains a stair which leads down to the lower and more exposed parts of the garden.

Strolling down the flower-bordered walks on the right side of the channel, the visitor who makes his exit into the second terrace will notice two rather well-executed elephants, standing on either side of a vase containing lotuses, carved on the stone lintel of the doorway. The presence of these animals would show, if other evidence were wanting, which is not the case, that the Nishat Bagh was built before the time of Aurangzeb. Perhaps he did not enter the garden, as it was a private one, and did not belong to the king, which may also account for Bernier not mentioning it.

The original approach to the garden was from the lake, which was also its lower boundary. The old flight of stone steps which gave direct access to the garden is still in an excellent state of preservation.

There is a story that the emperor Shah Jahan, who visited Kashmir in 1633, "decided that the garden was altogether too splendid for a subject, even though that subject might happen to be his own prime minister and father-in-law. He told Asaf Khan on three occasions how much he admired his pleasure-ground, expecting that it would be immediately offered for the royal acceptance. But if Shah Jahan coveted his neighbour's vine-yard, the Wazir was a no less stiff-necked Naboth; he could not bring himself to surrender his cherished pleasaunce to be ' a garden of herbs ' for his royal master, and he remained silent. Then as now, the same stream supplied both the Royal Garden (Shahlimar) and Nishat Bagh, which lies on the mountainffide between Shalimar and the city of Srinagar. So Shah Jahan in his anger ordered the water-supply to be cut off from Nishat Bagh, and was avenged, for the garden he envied was shorn of all its beauty.

" Nothing is more desolate than one of these great enclosures when their stone-lined tanks and water channels are dry and empty. Asaf Khan, who was staying in his summer palace at the time, could do nothing, and all his household knew of his grief and bitter dis- appointment. One day, lost in a melancholy reverie, he at last fell fast asleep in the shade by the empty water-course. At length a noise aroused him; rubbing his eyes, he could hardly believe what he saw, for the fountains were all playing merrily once more and the long carved water-chutes were white with foam. A faithful servant, risking his life, had defied the Emperor's orders, and removed the obstruction from the stream. Asaf Khan rebuked him for his zeal and hastily had the stream closed again. But the news reached the Emperor in his gardens at Shalimar; whereupon he sent for the terrified servant and, much to the surprise of the Court, instead of punishing him, bestowed a robe of honour upon him to mark his admiration for this act of devoted service; at the same time granting a sanad which gave the right to his master to draw water from the garden from the Shalimar stream.''


Shalimar is, of all the Mughal gardens in Kashmir, the one which has received the greatest attention from the later rulers of the country. The Pathan and the Sikh Governors occasionally used it as their pleasure resort, and when, from the reign of Ranjit Singh, Europeans began to visit the valley with comparative freedom, its marble pavilion was often assigned to them as a residence. But in spite of this intermittent care, the destroying hand of time and the wanton vandalism of some of the rulers themselves have robbed the summer residence of Nur Jahan and Jahangir of a great part of its ancient charm. An idea of what it was in the time of the Mughals may be gathered from the tantalisingly short description of Francois Bernier, who visited Kashmir in the suite of Aurangzeb in A.D. 1664:

" The most beautiful of all these gardens is one belonging to the king, called Chah-limar. The entrance from the lake is through a spacious canal bordered with green turf and running between two rows of poplars: The length is about five hundred paces, and it leads to a large summer-house placed in the middle of the garden. A second canal, still finer than the first, then conducts to another summer-house at the end of the garden. This canal is paved with large blocks of freestone and its sloping sides are covered with the same. In the middle is a long row of fountains, fifteen paces apart; besides which there are here and there large circular basins or reservoirs, out of which arise other fountains, formed into a variety of shapes and figures.

" The summer-houses are placed in the midst of the canal, consequently surrounded by water and between the two rows of large poplars planted on either side. They are built in the form of a dome, and encircled by a gallery, into which four doors open; two looking up or down the canal and two leading to bridges that connect the buildings with both banks. The houses consist of a large room in the centre with four smaller apartments, one at each corner. The whole of the interior is painted and gilt, and on the walls of all the chambers are inscribed certain sentences written in large and beautiful Persian characters.

" The four doors are extremely valuable; being composed of large stones and supported by two beautiful pillars. The doors and pillars were found in some of the idol temples demolished by Shah Jahan and it is impossible to estimate their value. I cannot describe the nature of the stone, but it is far superior to porphyry or any species of marble."

The large stone doors now no longer exist; the domes have given place to a common shingle roof; the gilding and paint and the inscription on the walls are now covered or replaced by a coat of whitewash; the view of the lake is cut off by an ugly stone wall; but in spite of these disastrous changes, the garden still preserves its singular charm. In strong contrast with the buoyant atmosphere of Nishat Bagh, with its sunlit terraces, its dashing cascades, playing fountains and sparkling streams, is the soft gloom and the gliding motion of the water-courses of the Shalimar, which is built on a comparatively flat piece of ground. The garden was a royal residence, and the court seems to have indelibly imprinted its spirit of decorum upon it. As the garden was probably designed by the Empress Nur Jahan, who in point of beauty and wit was the most pre-eminent lady in Muslim India, it would, perhaps, be more appropriate to say that the garden reflects the image of that queen of the harem, whom her fond lover designated the Light of the World.

The garden originally consisted, as now, of three enclosures, the lower one of which, however, has been considerably curtailed by the intrusion of the cart-road. The outermost enclosure was used as the public garden, and its barahdari was the Diwan-i-Am (the Hall of Public Audience). The small black marble throne still stands over the water-fall in the centre of the canal which flows through the building into the tank below.

" The second garden is slightly broader, consisting of two shallow terraces with the Diwan-i-Khas (the Hall of Private Audience) in the centre. The buildings have been destroyed, but their carved stone bases are left, as well as a fine platform surrounded by fountains. On the north-west boundary of this enclosure are the royal bathrooms.

" At the next wall, the little guard-rooms that flank the entrance to the ladies' garden have been rebuilt in Kashmir style on older stone bases. Here the whole effect culminates with the beautiful black marble pavilion built by Shah Jahan, which still stands in the midst of its fountain spray; the green glitter of the water shining in the smooth, polished marble, the deep rich tone of which is repeated in the old cypress trees. Round this baradari the whole colour and perfume of the garden is concentrated, with the snows of Mahadev for a background. How well the Mughals understood the principle that the garden, like every other work of art, should have a climax (Plate XIV).

" This unique pavilion is surrounded on every side by a series of cascades, and at night when the lamps are lighted in the little arched recesses behind the shining waterfalls it is even more fairy-like than by day."


(For Site Plan see Plate LXXVII)

Harwan is the name of a small village situated about 2 miles beyond the Shalimar garden. The only distinction it at present enjoys is derived from its being the site of the head-works of the magnificent water-supply system of Srinagar. Though the name Harwan had been identified by Sir Aurel Stein with Shadarhadvana (grove of six saints), a locality mentioned in the Rajatarangini, there were no indications above ground pointing to the existence of important monuments buried under the earth. It is true that over thirty years ago a few moulded brick tiles had been exhumed in the course of construction of the conduit which carries drinking water to Srinagar; but as these were merely stray fragments no efforts were made to trace their origin. It is only recently that this much-delayed task has been undertaken.

Fortunately, at the very outset, the enquiry was facilitated by a lucky chance. It was on a brilliant afternoon that the site was first surveyed. The hill-side along which the water conduit runs was waving with long-stalked Indian corn. But amid all those fields of luxuriant corn there existed a square flat patch which was covered only with thin turf, and in which there grew a solitary stunted plane tree. This plot of land, by reason of its apparent unproductiveness, immediately attracted attention. On enquiry from the neat-herd who was watering his cattle in the brook near by, it was ascertained that this barren field owned the significant name of Kitur-i-Daj (field of potsherds), because the entire field consisted of thickly packed sherds - whence its barrenness. The question that naturally arose was how such an abundance of potsherds could occur so high up the hill-side and so far from the present inhabited areas. The only explanation (which eventually turned out to be correct) was that in ancient times there had been dwellings here - dwellings the nature of which could be ascertained only by excavation.

Within a few days of the commencement of the excavation a number of walls came to light (Plate XV). They were ordinary rubble stone structures, at first sight scarcely distinguishable from the modern mud-and-stone walls of peasants' dwellings in Kashmir. When the operations had advanced, it was discovered that there was a method in the arrangement of the stones - e.g., a number of large boulders was placed in one row with intervening spaces between each pair of them. These spaces were filled with smaller stones, so that the entire facade presented a diaper effect. None of these stones was dressed. This style of construction was given the name " diaper rubble " style (Plate XVI). Among the buildings constructed in this style are (1) the triple base of a medium-sized stupa, and (2) a set of rooms which might have served as chapels, or for residential purposes. The stupa is built in the middle of a rectangular courtyard facing north. While digging under its foundations a copper coin of Toramana, the White Hun ruler, who flourished in about the fifth century A.D., was discovered. From this piece of evidence it was inferred that the " diaper rubble " stupa could not possibly be earlier than the fifth century A.D., though it might be considerably later in date.

Immediately around the stupa there was a narrow fringe of figured-tile pavement. A close examination of it showed that (1) nearly all the pieces were fragmentary; (2) though nearly all of them bore figures, no group of adjacent pieces completed a motif; and (3) though some were flat and might have formed part of a pavement, there were a few which bore mouldings in relief and could only have belonged to walls. The obvious inference was that these tiles were transplanted from a different structure, probably earlier, when that structure had fallen into desuetude. The question now was to find the structure to which they originally belonged.

In this area, however, the rubble stone structures - e.g., the stupa ahd the chapels - were not the only buildings that were exhumed. Side by side with them were other buildings in quite different styles - for example, two adjacent walls of what might have been the courtyard of some edifice of which no trace came to light. These walls had a core of rubble stones, but their facing consisted of closely packed small pebbles, transported from the bed of the neighbouring torrent. The walls are built entirely in mud, but the pebbles are so carefully packed that after the lapse of nearly two thousand years the portion of the wall that remains standing presents a very neat appearance. But the labour involved in collecting and fixing such small pebbles in an extensive building must have been enormous. This style of construction has, for want of a better name, been termed the " pebble " style (Plate XVII). Again, another enclosure wall in a far better state of preservation was found. This is built in a peculiar style, which is evidently a cross between the older pebble style and the later rubble style, and provides a strikingly effective facade (Plate XIX). It consists of a series of large, smooth-faced, irregularly shaped boulders placed at intervals of 6" to 18" apart, the interspaces being filled with small round or oval pebbles of 1" to 2" in diameter. It appears that the builders' solicitude for the durability of their buildings in time overcame their desire to acquire religious merit by devoting extra, though unnecessary, labour in the construction of religious buildings.

Among the antiquities that this area yielded, were a large number of broken fingers and toes of terra-cotta figures, terra-cotta curls belonging to images of the Buddha, of which no other remnant was found, and a few clay votive tablets bearing in relief miniature stupas. These last are extremely interesting, inasmuch as they give an idea of the kind of stupas that were built in Kashmir in the early centuries of the Christian era. The stupa depicted on the tablets had a triple base, all the three flights of steps leading up being in line with one another, as is the case with the existing stupa at Harwan. From the uppermost basement sprang a cylindrical dome with a bulging hemispherical top, which was surmounted by a number of umbrellas, standing one over the other, and diminishing in size until they end in a pointed finial. They are supported by what appears to be a forest of poles radiating outwards. To the finial were attached several long waving streamers. On one side of the stupa, standing in the courtyard, or it may be on the first terrace of the plinth, was a "lion" column. Below the representation of the stupa on the plaque, the Buddhist creed, Ye dharma, etc., in Brahmi characters of about the fourth century A.D., iS stamped in relief (Plate XVIII).

A closer scrutiny of the hill-side brought to light the fact that in the period to which the ruins belong it was arranged in level terraces, on each of which stood several buildings. There was a central flight of steps which connected them, and gave access from one to the other. It is likely that it was continued to the foot of the hill, along which runs a beautiful stream of clear water, although the shrines were not wholly dependent for their drinking water upon the stream. There cxist to this day two springs, one above and the other near the ruins, and probably in the old days there was a larger number.

On the highest of these terraces, which, by the way, grew excellent corn at the time of excavation, there was a little mound whose general appearance seemed promising. Nor did the operations, carried out later, belie that promise, for they brought to light the most important of the buildings so far exhumed at this site. It is a large apsidal temple, square in front and circular at the back, built in the very picturesque diaper pebble style of masonry. The temple accommodation consisted of a spacious rectangular antechamber with a circular sanctum behind. No relic of any kind nor any trace of an image was found, but this deficiency was made up by the wonderful pavement of the courtyard round the temple, consisting of large moulded brick tiles having various shapes and forming different patterns (Plate XIX). The favourite pattern seems to have been a large disc consisting of several concentric circles with a single central piece. Each circle is composed of a series of arc-shaped tiles, each shmped with a special motif. The principal motifs on the tiles so far discovered are (1) designs consisting of frets, wavy lines, fish-bone patterns, conventional flowers, and flower-designs consisting of different combinations of leaves; (2) leaves of an aquatic plant common in the neighbouring Dal lake; leaves of the lotus plant, some indigenous flowers in full bloom grouped in various ways; (3) geese running or flying in rows with flower petals or leaves in their bills; ducks; cocks or pheasants often placed in the centre of a floral pattern; cocks fighting; (4) rams fighting; cows suckling their young; elephants; deer looking with head turned backwards at the moon; archers on- horseback chasing deer and shooting arrows at them; (5) a lady carrying a flower vase; a dancing girl; a female musician beating a drum; a soldier in armour hunting deer with bow and arrow; men and women conversing, seated in a balcony; boys carrying a floral festoon on their shoulders. That these tiles occupied exactly the position they were laid in by ancient workmen is borne out by the fact that each one of them bears a number in Kharoshthi script, the order of the tiles in a series being in strict accordance with their consecutive numeral order. The obvious inference is that the tile-pavement was not laid in a haphazard manner, but followed a set design, probably drawn first by the architect on paper or parchment. The potter who made the tiles and stamped them with decorative figures numbered them before baking, to prevent the comparatively unskilled layer from making mistakes and thereby spoiling the design. Incidentally it shows that in ancient India, over fifteen centuries ago, labourers were expected to know at least the rudiments of writing and reading. The existence of Kharoshthi numerals also affords a reliable clue to the date of the tiles, and consequently to that of the monuments. Kharoshthi script ceased to be in vogue in north-western India, where it had principally flourished, about the fifth century A.D. It follows therefore that the tiles belong to a period anterior to that century, possibly a considerable period. The fact that the Kharoshthi numerals at Harwan were intended for the guidance of common labourers indicates that the script must have been at the highest pitch of popularity at the time the tiles were made. I should accordingly place the date of the tiles, and consequently that of the diaper pebble masonry with which they are associated, at about A.D. 300. This conclusion receives further support from the style of the human figures and other designs stamped on the tiles. For example, the physiognomy and, to some extent, the dress of the men and women are wholly unlike that of any of the races at present residing in Kashmir, or for the matter of that in India. Their facial characteristics bear close resemblance to those of inhabitants of the regions round about Yarkand and Kashgar, whose heavy features prominent cheekbones, narrow, sunk, and slanting eyes, and receding foreheads, are faithfully represented on the tiles. Some of the figures are dressed in trousers and Turkoman caps. The only period when Kashmir had any intimate connection with Central Asia was during the supremacy of the Kushans in the early centuries of the Christian era, when Kashmir formed part of the Kushan empire, which extended from Mathura in India to Yarkand in Central Asia. Indeed, then as now it appears to have occupied a pre-eminent position; inasmuch as Kanishka (circa A.D. 125), the greatest of Kushan emperors, is said to have convened here his great council of Buddhist divines. It may be that some pious and prosperous Kushan built this shrine at Harwan, where, according to the ancient history of Kashmir, resided the great Buddhist patriarch, Nagarjuna. Further perhaps to increase his religious merit, and to show his humility, the builder had the image of his own face and that of his wife's stamped on the tiles so that the commonest people might tread on them. Among the other decorative motifs which reveal foreign influence are the figures of mailed horsemen with flying scarves tied to their heads, which are strongly reminiscent of the contemporary Sassanian art of Persia.

The tile decoration was not confined to the pavement only. Though very few moulded tiles belonging to the facade have been found, their fragments prove thatl up to a certain height at least, the facade also was decorated with tile-work. This is further borne out by the discovery of a long platform at the back of the courtyard, which almost throughout its length bears such decoration (Plate XXI).

The peculiar interest of the Harwan monuments lies in the fact that they are the only remains of their kind in India (possibly in the world), and that they supply a life-like representation of the features of those mysterious people, the Kushans.

From the above it is clear that the pebble style of buildings was the earliest in date. It was followed by the diaper pebble style, which dates about A.D. 300. This style was followed by the diaper rubble style, whose date is about A.D. 500 and later.

The dimensions of the tile pavement round the apsidal temple are 160' by 124' 6". The tiles, as stated above, are decorated with a variety of motifs, the most prominent of which are reproduced in the accompanying illustrations. It will be noticed that a striking feature of the human figures on the tiles is that the head is invariably shown in profile and the body facing front (Plates XX-XLII).


From the Harwan ruins, looking north-west, may be seen, situatcd on the plateau of Burzahom, 2 miles away, the only prehistoric remains, save stone implements, which have so far been discovered in Kashmir. They consist of a group of eleven megaliths, five of which are more or less erect: the rest have fallen. As no excavations have yet been carried out at this site, it is impossible to state precisely what they are and to what period they belong (Plate XLIII).
Kashmiri Overseas Association
 Kashmiri Monuments