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Kashmir valley is full of natural wonders and splendors. Along with its lofty mountains, murmuring streams, and magnificent valleys, it has the relics of Mughal architecture in the form of gardens and palaces. The entire valley is blessed with numerous gardens. Most of these were constructed during the era of Mughals in this region. The ardor for grandeur and architectural excellence possessed by the Mughals is evident in these gardens as well. They are now popular tourist spots and wonderful places to experience the beauty of Kashmir in its full glory.
Anantnag district covers the Southern end of Kashmir valley. Incidentally, most of these gardens and parks are located within this district itself. The natural beauty of Anantnag is accented due to the presence of these splendid tourist attractions of valley which also exhibit the historical heritage of this land. Currently, these gardens in Anantnag are maintained by Department of Floriculture, Anantnag. The most popular gardens in Anantnag are:
Achabal Gardens Anantnag
They are also called the Mughal Gardens of Achabal. At a distance of 8 km from main Anantnag city, these are the most resplendent Mughal gardens found in the entire country. It was a pleasure retreat for Nur Jahan, wife of Jehangir and a charming empress. Achabal Gardens are also called Places of the Princess and they truly are the manifestation of paradise on earth. It was built in typical Mughal style of architecture with Persian style of gardening which comprises a mélange of colors, exquisite fountain, and Hamam which was supposedly heated by a logical lamp called Toshnag.
Achabal Gardens are spread over 6.20 hectares of landscape and are fringed by tall Chinar trees adding to the majesty of this place. It was built in 1620 and Later around 1640, Jahan Ara, daughter of Shah Jahan renovated it to divide this whole garden into three terraces exemplifying the great architecture of that era. The garden becomes a visual treat in autumn when the Chinar trees become red in color adding to beauty of this place.
Padshahi Bagh Brijbehara
Brijbehara is a prominent city situated 8 km north of Anantnag city on the banks of River Jhelum. Padshahi Bagh is a beautiful garden located along side Srinagar Jammu National Highway near Brijbehara.
This garden lies at some distance from Mughal Garden built by Dara Shikwa, son of Shah Jahan and this distance is covered by a bridge called Padshahi Bagh Bridge that connects both these magnificent gardens. This Bagh has 25 Chinars including the oldest Chinar of Indian sub continent.
Mughal Garden Verinag
Situated at the foothill of Banihal Mountains, Mughal Gardens of Verinag are a fascinating destination to spend time close to nature. This garden also reflects the love for architecture that Mughals had. It was laid in 1620 by Jehangir who was mesmerized by the beauty of Verinag spring that is also said to be the origin of Jhelum River. This spring has thick deodar and kail forests in its backdrop and lush greenery flanks it from all sides. Fascinated by this beauty, Jehangir built an octagonal tank to collect the scattered water of this spring.
Later on, after seven years, his son, Shah Jahan accentuated its beauty by adding cascades and fountains in straight rows to enhance the splendor of this place. He also built hot and cold water baths here which are in ruins and only have their traces preserved by the authorities. Water of this octagonal tank is crystal blue in color and is believed to emerge continuously from a depth of 50 feet. This historical place has religious significance as well for Hindus as many small temples are also built in this garden.
Botanical Garden of Kokernag
It is also popularly known as Pleasure Garden. Against the milieu of dense pine forests, this garden is situated at the height of 6627 feet above sea level. It is located around 10 km towards south of Anantnag city. The garden has famous spring of mineral water having great curative properties as well. It was designed as Botanical Garden in 1969 and spread over landscaped area of 26 ha. The garden has rich flora including ornamental plants, shrubs, roses, and the wild flora of Kashmir Valley. It has Japanese bridges, ponds, garden seats, and topiary work for attracting people towards it.
Kokernag is a collection of small channels gushing out from a spring that originates in thick woods. While flowing, these springs resemble claws of hen (locally called Koker).
Hence it got its name as Kokernag. This natural spring also called Papashudan Nad, finds its mention in famous gazetteer of Akbar, Ain-e-Akbari.
Aishmuqam Park in Anantnag
This park lies in Aishmuqam, a small village located on Anantnag- Pahalgam Road. The park covers area of 22 kanals and has three terraces adorned with ornamental trees, plants, shrubs, and fragrant flowers.
Akad Park in Anantnag
Akad is again a small village en route Anantnag- Pahalgam Road around 18 km away from Anantnag city. The park covering an area of 18 kanals is a visual treat with a sweet murmuring stream flowing alongside and scenic views of Pahalgam mountain ranges acting as perfect backdrop to it. Most of the people travelling on this road take halt at this beautiful park in Akad.
Parks at Pahalgam near Anantnag
Pahalgam is a town located 45 km from Anantnag at height of 7200 feet above sea level. It is a famous trekking location, a base camp for Amarnath ji Yatra, and world renowned tourist spot. Pahalgam has many beautiful parks that are maintained by Department of Floriculture for attracting more tourism in this region. These parks are:
Lidder View Park
Bobby Hut Park
Sherbagh Park in Anantnag
This Park in Anantnag is known for its Sulphur spring and huge chinar trees fringing it on all sides. There is a huge chinar in center of this park and an open mosque is also there to offer prayers. The upper part of Sherbagh Park has a temple and Gurudwara. It has a natural spring gushing out from foothills of a small hillock and this spring is enclosed in a tank having numerous fish. Chinar trees surround this tank to give a shade to the people who visit here for rejuvenating.
Other Parks in Anantnag
Along with all these magnificent gardens and parks in Anantnag district, there are also some other parks that enhance the beauty of this place with their natural aura. These parks include: