These gardens are of formal style, orderly, symmetrically planned and accommodated in rectangular or square plots. Babar, the founder of Mogul dynasty in India, came from Samarkand. His forefathers i.e., Timur Leng had long association with Persia. Therefore, the gardening style of Mogul was an extended plan of basic form of ‘Char Bagh’ design of paradise garden of Persia.
The primitive plan is simple in which plot is divided into four equal plots by providing water channel in the centre. These channels are raised above ground and used for irrigating the field. These water channels represent the four rivers of life. The plots are planted with trees and flowering plants.
The axis is straight and central, cutting at right angles to another axis in the centre. Sometime, the axis is represented by line of trees. These water channels are filled with running water which provides coolness and freshness to the garden. Reflection of blue sky, stars, moon, trees etc. in the water provides a unique attraction to the visitors.
With the passage of time, water pool in the centre was created at the same level or at higher level. The central tank remained the main feature of paradise gardens for long. Raised level of central tank gives rise to the concept of Chadar or water sheet by overflowing water from the tank. Falling of water in the manner of spring added to the beauty of gardens.
The beautification of gardens was further done by providing fountains in the water channel and central tank (Fig. 29.1). With the architectural advancement, water was made to flow down from concrete structures. To break the water into ripples these are made up of different styles.
In other architectural modification, the central pool is replaced by main building as it is found in the Sikandra garden i.e., Tomb of Akbar in Agra. In next phase of perfection, the terminus of garden has been made up of strong terminal building (The Taj Mahal— Fig 29.2).
To maintain the proportion of land in view of garden, the basic plan is extended into terraces irrespective of topography of the land. The presence of 7, 8 or 12 terraces in the garden symbolizes planets or paradise or zodiac, respectively.
In many of the Mogul gardens the entrance is at lowest terrace and terminal building at last terrace with the exception at Pinjore garden where entrance is at higher ground and the seventh terrace is at the lowest. On the contrary, terraces are also made on flat ground by dividing into terraces.
The presence of running water is the life of Mogul gardens. Broad water canals are made in overall proportion of the area. Central water course is strong and dominant. In the centre there are fountains which makes central axis also. Running water in the form of cascade and chadar makes garden splendid.
There are different types of chadars like silent or ripple chadar, patterned chadar (in water ripples are at level to another level), carved marble chadar or water chute. Another type of cascade is marble cascade made at Agra Fort. In the day gold and silver vases filled with golden are set in niches behind the water. At night these vases are replaced by light forming water lanterns. Such lanterns are in plenty in Taj Mahal.
High Protecting Wall:
Mogul gardens are protected by a high strong wall. The top of the wall is adorned by battlements. Such high protecting walls are necessary to provide a protection to the garden against hot, desiccating wind. Trees and other plants are more safer. These high walls also protect against the attack of enemy in those insecure days. Chieftains along with wives, and concubines used to take shelter in these gardens in emergency.
The entrance of Mogul gardens is an important feature which gives access to the garden. Generally it is a tall and gorgeous. Doors are huge and strong wooden structure studded with heavy iron nails and spikes. Heavy gates provided to protect gardens from enemy attack.
In Mogul gardens, terminal building is a gorgeous and superb structure. The best example is the Taj Mahal. A great deal of architectural skill has been used in making building. These building have their dynamic force which attracts the mind of viewers. To make the balance, other buildings on the sides have also been made.
It is a canopied building with twelve open doors i.e. three in each direction. These structures were made to enjoy nature, black clouds, rains and fresh breeze etc. This place was used to hold the parties, singing and dancing programmes. There are also stone platforms or chabutras from where emperor could enjoy the breath-taking beauty of the spring blossom or fruit trees. The chabutra would probably have been covered with a carpet to give protection from heating sun.
Symbolism in Mogul Gardens:
Water is present symbolically and physically as the source of life. The cross, formed in the center by the intersection of the water channels has been the symbol of meeting of humanity with God as propounded in many religions.
Generally gardens are divided into eight parts representing eight division of The Koran. In the traditional planting of alternate cypress and flowering trees along the waterways represented immortality and renewal of life respectively. White Kachnar (Bauhinia Alba) represented the youth and life.
Plant Material Used by Mogul Emperors:
The plant material was selected carefully and was planted giving the formal effect. The selection of material depended upon local climatic conditions. They planted fruit trees, flowering plants, shrubs and colourful annuals to give a new life to the gardens. Fragrant flowers provided them the maximum attraction.
In Kashmir they planted mostly chinar (Platanusorientalis), white poplar (Poplar Alba), cypress, apple, peach, plum, cherries (sour and sweet), and quince, pomegranate and fig plants. In the plains, gardens were planted with mango, grape, fig, gular, aonla, orange, citron, peach, plum, etc. Among spring flowering tress SafedKachnar (Bauhinia Alba), palas (Buteamonosperma), champa (Micheliachampaka) and Chaltha (Dilleniaindica), Chandan (Santalum album) were planted.
Fragrant shrubs like Harshingar (Nyctanthesarbortristis), Harichampa (Artabotrisodoratissima), roses, screw pine, Jasminumsambac, J. multiflorum, J. grandiflorum, gurhal (Hibiscus rosasinensis) were commonly planted.
Flowering plants like Narcissus, Daffodils, Irises, Carnations, Hollyhock, Tagetespatula, Larkspur, Stock, Sunflower, Amaranthus, cock’s comb, etc. were dominant. The colourful effects were created by massing single colourful annuals.