Along the Grand Trunk Road, Aam-Khas Bagh is tucked away in Sirhind (Fatehgarh Sahib), attracting few visitors to its expansive history.
Online sources indicate that Aam-Khas Bagh (Public-Private Garden) was built by Babur, improved upon by Akbar but used mostly by Jahangir, Shahjahan and his Queen during the 16th Century. However, the ASI board states otherwise. It is said, that under the reign of Emperor Akbar, Sirhind’s revenue collector Hafiz Rakhna built this garden for the use of commoners as well as royalty. It was extended and almost rebuilt by Shahjahan along the Delhi-Lahore road.
When we entered, we realised that the place is undergoing restoration, and couldn’t figure which side to enter from or move towards. Fortunately for us, Mr. Harjinder Singh was just around and being an ex-ASI told us so much.
The Mughals were known for their architectural genius and it is therefore no surprise that the Aam Khas Bagh is breathtakingly beautiful. It is in ruins now – as a result of attacks as well as lack of maintenance – but the grandeur of its original days isn’t hard to imagine.
The garden has a cluster of buildings : Sard Khana , Hammam, Barracks, Daulat-E-Khas, Sheesh Mahal
The first enclosure of the Khas Bagh was contained by a wall, and separated from the Aam Bagh.
The royal part of the building has an enormous water storage tank, and a palace with beautiful wall paintings. The special features of these a are hot-and-cold air conditioning facilities and fountains driven by a unique hydraulic system. The underground terracotta channels used to heat / cool the rooms are really a lesson in sustainability, I felt.
The Daulat-E-Khas or the Palace, stands over the Causeway over the Tank on one side and the Mehtabi Chabutra on the other.
This double storeyed monument was commissioned by Emperor Shah Jahan as his private residence. What was interesting to note was that the architecture allowed for sunlight to fill the rooms, but not directly, thereby retaining the cool temperature. I also noticed some fading signs of Miniature art.
What I loved was the clock in front of the Daulat-E-Khas : 12 pillars representing the hours and each curve the minutes.
The Sheesh Mahal of course is the grandest of them all.
Between 1700 – 1763, the frequent wars between the Mughal and Sikh forces reduced this garden to ruins and its waterways and tanks were filled in with earth.