The Roads Beyond Lahore
The Wah Garden at Hasan Abdal

Wah Garden with Baradari
(Open Pavilions)
Wah Garden with Baradari (Open Pavilions)

If one continues along the Grand Trunk Road west of Lahore, past the modern capital of Islamabad and the ancient Buddhist monastery of Taxila, one passes by an extraordinary Mughal garden near the town of Hasan Abdal, at a village known as "Wah"–sometimes translated as "Wow!"–purportedly the first word uttered by Akbar, the third ruler of the Mughal dynasty, upon seeing the idyllic setting and clear, rushing waters.

The Water Tank
The Water Tank

Although Hasan Abdal's springs and shrines have a much longer history, the fourth Mughal ruler, Jahangir, provides the first detailed Mughal account of the site and its garden. The sixth ruler, Aurangzeb, stayed there for over a year. In recent times, the Wah garden at Hasan Abdal has received extensive research and conservation attention, and for good reason.

The Cypress-Lined
Water Axis
The Cypress-Lined Water Axis

The Remains of a
Hammam (Bath)
The Remains of a Hammam (Bath)

Interior of a Baradari
(Open Pavilion)
Interior of a Baradari (Open Pavilion)

The garden is fed by clear, cool springs that collect in a large square tank on its upper terrace. The water originally flowed through a baradari and two flanking pavilions, one of which had elaborate bath chambers (hammam), over an inclined cascade that was decorated in a typically Mughal black-and-yellow marble chevron pattern. The water continued along a cypress-lined garden axis, through a central water tank and platform, and ultimately through the main entrance gate of the garden.

The Pakistan Department of Archaeology has excavated and restored part of the garden, while researchers such as Shahid Rajput (1996) have documented its history, spatial structure, and features. Catherine Asher (1996) has emphasized the possible roles and meanings of the Hindu Rajput noble Raja Man Singh's patronage at the site. Philippa Vaughn (1995) has interpreted the garden as a unique surviving example of a Manzil Bagh, where traveling nobles would halt on their journey. Wescoat (1990) suggests it may reflect the influence of contemporary Mughal garden design in Kashmir, as it lay on an important road to that province and had a similar spring-fed, terraced layout. Abdul Rehman (1997) provides a detailed account of the garden within the natural and built environment of Hasan Abdal. And in view of this Manzil garden's beauty and historical significance, it seems likely to draw many more travelers, researchers, and conservationists in the years to come.

Asher, C. 1996. "Gardens of the Nobility: Raja Man Singh and the Bagh-I-Wah." In The Mughal Garden, Ed. M. Hussain, A. Rehman, and J. Wescoat. Lahore: Ferozsons, pp. 61-72.

Rajput, S. 1996. "The Mughal garden "Wah" near Hasanabdal: Source Material, Report of Excavations of 1993-94 and New Discoveries." In The Mughal Garden, Ed. M. Hussain, A. Rehman, and J. Wescoat. Lahore: Ferozsons, pp. 73-88.

Rehman, A. 1997. Historic Towns of Punjab: Ancient and Medieval Period. Lahore: Ferozsons, pp. 217-36.

Vaughn, P. 1995. "The Mughal Garden at Hasan Abdal: A Unique Surviving Example of a 'Manzil' Bagh." South Asia Research 15: 241ff.

Wescoat, J. L. Jr. 1990. "The Geographic Meaning of Shalamar Garden." In Shalamar Garden Lahore: Landscape, Form and Meaning. Karachi: Pakistan Department of Archaeology, pp. 45-58.