Bernier on Achabal Garden
Bernier went to Achabal along the pilgrims way. 'Returning from Send-bray (Bawan) I turned a little from the high road for the sake of visiting Achiavel (Achibal), formerly a country house of the Kings of Kashemire and now of the Great Mogol. What principally constitutes the beauty of this place is a fountain, whose waters disperse themselves into a hundred canals round the house, which is by no means unseemly, and throughout the gardens. The spring gushes out of the earth with violence, as if it issued from the bottom of some well, and the water is so abundant that it ought rather to be called a river than a fountain. It is excellent water, and as cold as ice. The garden is very handsome, laid out in regular walks, and full of fruit trees- apple, pear, plum, apricot, and cherry. Jets deau in various forms and fish ponds are in great number, and there is a lofty cascade which in its fall takes the form and colour of a large sheet, thirty or forty paces in length, producing the finest effect imaginable; especially at night, when innumerable lamps, fixed in parts of the wall adapted for that purpose, are lighted under this sheet of water.'
As in the case of nearly all these Kashmir gardens, the lowest terrace is destroyed by the highway, and Achibal Bagh is much smaller than it was in Mughal days. But nothing can spoil the natural loveliness of this river, gushing out of the honeycombed limestone cliff, just at the point where the mountains intrude farthest on the plains. It is an ideal site. If I were asked where the most perfect modern garden on a medium scale could be devised, I should answer without hesitation, Achibal. Nowhere else have I seen such possibilities for the combined appeal of a stately stone-bordered pleasance between ordered avenues of full-grown trees, and a natural rock and woodland upper garden with haunting, far-reaching views, where the white wild roses foam over the firs and the boulders, rivalling the 'sheet of water' Bernier praised.
l677m (58 km) has a spring flowing out of Sosansar hills at a Mughal garden built by Noor Jehan and her sister Jahan Ara in 1640. Achabal also has a trout hatchery.
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