Lal Qila (Red Fort) - Hayat Bakhsh Gardens & Pavilions


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Hayat-Bakhsh Garden & Pavilions






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The area north of the Moti-Masjid is occupied by a garden, called the Hayat-Bakhsh-Bagh. (life-bestowing garden), divided into squares on the pattern of Mughal gardens with causeways and channels between them. It finds mention in the contemporary accounts, although its present layout is new.

At the north-eastern corner of the garden is a tower, called Shah-Burj, now domeless, which suffered much during the Mutiny. A similar tower known as Asad-Burj stands on the south-eastern corner of the fort. The water for feeding the Nahr-i-Bihisht was apparently lifted up to the Shah-Burj from the river and then carried by channels to the various palaces. The present pavilion adjoining the tower on the south was perhaps built during Aurungzeb's reign. In the centre of the north wall is a marble cascade sloping into a scalloped basin.

Hira Mahal with the Shah Burj in the background

Two other marble pavilions in the centre of the northern and southern sides of the garden are known as Sawan and Bhadon, two principal months of the rainy season, either because they represent those months or were used during those months, but which is Sawan and which is Bhadon is not exactly certain. The northern one is provided with a tank with niches for candles in its sides, so that the water cascading over them would create a picturesque effect.

Sawan & Bhadon

On the elevated strip of land along the eastern wall stood two small marble pavilions, built by Bahadur Shah II. The northern one known as Moti-Mahal and the southern one as Hira-Mahal. The former was re­moved after the Mutiny; the latter still stands. In the centre of the garden is a large tank with a red stone pavilion in its middle, originally connected by a cause­way with the garden. It is known as Zafar-Mahal, after the nom de plume of Bahadur Shah II, by whom it was built, in about 1842.

Zafar Mahal with Bhadon in the background