It is a place where an emperor was crowned, where a bloody battle was fought for Delhi, which served as the sprawling residence by a top British officer in the Mughal court and as a camping ground by an invading army. The Shalimar Bagh, located in the far north corner of the city has seen it all. A mute witness of all these events is the Sheesh Mahal, the centerpiece of this ornamental garden.
Shalimar Bagh in its original form was laid out as a formal Mughal Garden, on the lines of the famous Mughal Garden Shalimar Bagh in the valley of Kashmir. Today the Sheesh Mahal located on the top of this garden is in a dilapidated state. In the last few years, it has gone through some shoddy restoration work followed by some proper restoration. In recent years a fountain channel leading to the Sheesh Mahal has also been excavated, giving a glimpse of the formal glory of the place. But not many come to appreciate its beauty. Most of the visitors are the morning walkers from the residential colony all around.
The building as it stands today makes for interesting viewing when seen from close quarters. The ceilings and internal walls have some traces of paintings and intricate stonework. What is most compelling about the whole palace is the significance of the historical events that took place here. Something that would be much appreciated only by someone with a keen sense of history.
A historical view
The garden was originally called Azziabad Bagh and is said to have been laid by Izz-un-Nissa the third wife of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1653 AD, as a garden pavilion. She was popularly known by the title "Akbarabadi Mahal".
Later on in 1658, when Aurangzeb the son of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, defeated his brothers in the battle for the Mughal throne, he chose to crown himself the emperor in this very pavilion (Sheesh Mahal). Once that was done, he led his triumphant army to the Red Fort.
The place also served as the harbinger of really bad news for the city of Delhi, when Nadir Shah camped here with his army before deciding to inflict a massive massacre on Delhi. The episode ended with Nadir Shah leaving for Persia after taking possession of the famous peacock throne and the Kohinoor diamond.
When the British got powerful, the gardens served as the residence of Sir David Ochterlony, a British Resident in the Mughal Court. During those days Sheesh Mahal saw many evening parties being hosted to entertain the aristocracy of the time.
Finally, the gardens saw a bloody battle between the Indian sepoys and the British army as it tried to win back Delhi during the revolt of 1857.