Paradise in Conflict: Reexamining and Safeguarding the Genius of the Mughal Gardens of Kashmir (Full Article)

The Landscapes Research Record journal published the article on ‘Paradise in Conflict: Reexamining and Safeguarding the Genius of the Mughal Gardens of Kashmir’ by Jan Haenraets, Melissa Hollingsworth and Alyssa Schwann. 

The abstract of the paper is included below, and the pdf of the full article – as published in the Landscape Research Record by CELA – can be read and downloaded under this  LINK (1.7 MB). The pdf version of the complete issue of this Landscape Research Record No.1 2013 with all 39 peer-reviewed articles can be downloaded HERE (16.1 MB). Landscape Research Record is published by the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA).

The central axis and channel of Nishat Bagh in 2010 with its terraces sloping up against the hillside and views framed by the chinar trees (Platanus orientalis) (Photo: Jan Haenraets, 2010).

Abstract Paper

The history of garden making in Kashmir goes back to ancient times with garden making closely linked to the natural beauty and spirit of the place. During the Mughal period in Kashmir these traditions reached unprecedented heights. Through the implementation of the Islamic chahar bagh and Paradise Garden concepts onto the topography of Kashmir hundreds of Mughal gardens were created.

Since the decline of the Mughal Empire many of these gardens suffered neglect and only a small number of the gardens still exist today, with the traditional use and significance of these sites and their wider settings being undermined. The paper’s focus is on the gardens in Indian-administered Kashmir. To date this heritage remains under-examined and at risk, particularly given the context of the ongoing conflict in Kashmir, with Nishat Bagh and Shalimar Bagh included in the 2008 World Monument Fund List of 100 Most Endangered Sites.

The paper presents evidence of historic and new threats to this irreplaceable heritage due to inappropriate development and change and a limited understanding of the history and significance of the sites. In the meantime the paper raises awareness of the importance of this heritage and illustrates recent preservation initiatives to address these issues, including the ongoing preparation of a UNESCO World Heritage nomination dossier. In doing so, the paper hopes to garner support from the international landscape architecture and preservation communities in investigating this heritage and safeguarding the genius of the Mughal gardens of Kashmir.

Text and Photograph by Jan Haenraets

Jan Haenraets is Director of Atelier Anonymous Landscapes Inc., Vancouver, BC, Canada; and an Adviser to the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, Jammu & Kashmir Chapter

 For the full paper, see this link (1.7 MB).

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