Dholpur Lotus garden


Babur’s Lotus Garden or Bagh-i-Nilufur at Dholpur, Rajasthan is locally known as Badshahi Bagh. Located atop the red sandstone ridge that looms high above the Chambal River, the Lotus garden is situated about 50 kms south of Agra. One of the very few Islamic gardens to have ever been excavated, the Bagh-i-Nilufar (Lotus Garden) was built by Babur, founder of the Mughal Empire, between 1527 and 1530 at Dholpur. The site, like all the settings for his gardens, was chosen by Babur personally, spotted when the emperor was examining a Lodi-period reservoir.  From an outcrop of fine grained sandstone, he made a broad platform from which terraces descended to a garden.

Babur describes the process of building the garden in some detail and refers a mosque, bath, well, twenty -six rock spouts, pillars, watercourses cut terrace- like into the terrain, and stone platforms. The bath, well and water channels are still extant, although little remains of the garden’s original character; however, a centrally situated large lotus- shaped pool as welll as smaller pools, some with edging resembling lotus petals, are still visible.

The site included a stepwell that supplied water to the garden by a raised aqueduct and a distribution pool, bath house, Timurid style pavilion, and various enclosed gardens with large and small pools, all linked by a water channel incised in the rock surface and pouring over small chadars as it fell from once terrace to the next.

The garden takes its name from the sequentially linked basins, developing from the lotus’s tight bud to full swollen bloom and finally the spent stage was the largest basin: it stood on the lowest of the stone terraces at the centre of intersecting water channels. From here, the water flowed to a lower gardened level that took the form of a chahar bagh. Because the water was lifted from a deep well, pressure was minimal and the display of water was limited to small cascades and basins rather than the fountain jets seen at later Mughal gardens.



Islamic Gardens and Landscapes  By D. Fairchild Ruggles

Architecture of Mughal India, Part 1, Volume 4  By Catherine Blanshard Asher, Catherine Ella Blanshard Asher




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