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One of several ‘swimming pools’ at Wah Gardens

The impressive Wah Gardens were established during the Mughal era; located 47 kilometres from Islamabad they are easily accessible via GT Road, and are one of the most frequented recreational spots during the summer months. The Gardens were inaugurated during the 1580s by Raja Maan Singh, a general stationed at Wah during Emperor Akbar’s reign. Maan Singh and his army stayed in Wah because of the stream that flowed through the area; he also built a swimming pool and a small rest house there.


Water canals meander through the ruins

A royal rest house… In 1639, Shah Jehan stopped at Wah Gardens on his way to Kabul. He was so enthralled by the place that he had an architect transform the picturesque spot into an enclosed garden replete with fountains, canals, warm and hot water pools, a baara daari pavilion (with 12 arched doors), a hamaam, as well as a full-fledged rest house. Wah Gardens continued to serve as a rest stop for the Mughal emperors on the way to Kabul. It is believed that three generations of Mughal emperors stayed there: Jehangir, Shah Jehan and Aurangzeb.


Ruins of an arched gateway

Lost grandeur… Although the main building is now dilapidated, the lawns and pools are well maintained, and the Gardens continue to be a popular recreational destination as people come there to swim, picnic alongside the ponds or go for walks in the lush green lawns.

Food fit for a king… Unfortunately, there are no full fledged restaurants near the Gardens; there are only two cafés nearby that serve snacks such as pakoras, French fries, soft drinks, tea and biscuits. However, there are a couple of shanwari restaurants located just a short drive away, on GT Road, which serve up some amazing treats: Afghani pulao, roasted chicken, and karahi gosht – all of which are served with some piping hot Afghani naan. Some visitors prefer to drive to Hassan Abdal, which is about five kilometres away from Wah Gardens, to partake in the famous Rohu fish which is available at several restaurants there.

In a nutshell… A visit to Wah Gardens is an ideal day-trip if one lives in Rawalpindi or Islamabad; there are a number of hotels and rest houses nearby for people who want to stay there for a couple of days and enjoy the idyllic views.  

– Text and photographs by Muhammad Arsalaan

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First published in the Real Estate Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on July 21, 2013.