Mughal Garden of Verinag located about 61 km south of Srinagar at the foothill of Banihal Mountain ranges. Covering a total area of 5.30 hectares, the garden fascinates the tourists with its beautiful manicured lawns, flower beds, majestic chinar trees and gushing spring at the backdrop of lush and dense forest.
Verinag is a town and a notified area committee in Anantnag district in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, India. It is about 26 kilometers away from Anantnag and approximately 78 kilometeres south-east from Srinagar which is the summer capital of the state of Jammu & Kashmir. Verinag is also the first tourist spot of Kashmir Valley when travelling by road from Jammu, the winter capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir towards Srinagar, the summer capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It lies at the entry point of Kashmir Valley right after crossing Jawahar Tunnel.
A major tourist attraction of this place is Verinag Spring, for which this place is named. There is an octagonal stone basin at Verinag Spring and an arcade surrounding it which were built by Mughal emperor Jahangir in 1620 A.D. Later, a beautiful garden next to this spring, was laid out by his son Shah Jahan. This spring is known to never dry up or overflow. Verinag Spring is also the major source of river Jhelum.
Verinag spring which is in Verinag town issues from a high scarp of a mountain spur, and is considered the source of the river Jhelum. It is situated at the bottom of a hill covered by pine trees and evergreen plants. The Mughal Emperor Jehangir constructed an octagonal tank of sculptured stones around the spring for which carvers for were brought from Iran. A garden was also built by Jahangir next to this natural spring which is of pre-Islamic religious significance. The construction date of the octagonal tank and the garden is 1029 Hijri or 1620 A.D. is duly inscribed on a stone slab built into the southern wall of the spring. The water is collected in a pool surrounded by arched recesses, and then flows down a 300-yard canal to the Bihat river. Jahangir wished to be buried at Verinag gardens, but his wife, Nur Jahan, disobeyed his wishes. Today nothing remains of the pavilions which once decorated the area. According to a legend, goddess Vitasta(Jhelum) wanted to take rise from this place, but it happened that when she came, Shiva was staying here, whereupon she had to go back and then she took her rise from Veravurthur, a spring about a mile to the north-west of this place. Virah in Sanskrit means to ‘go back’ and ‘nag’ means a water spring and, as Vitasta had to go back from this place, it came to be called Virahnag or “Vernag”.
Verinag spring was originally an irregular and shapeless pond, and water, oozing out from different places in it and spread about and formed a little marsh. The emperor Jahangir, whose artistic taste for polishing the beauty of nature is well known, saw this and at once determined to improve it. He built the octagonal tank of sculptured stones round it, so that all water was collected therein. The construction of water garden and the octagonal tank around the spring at Verinag was completed in the year 1620 A.D. or 1029 Hijri during the 15th year of the Jahangir’s reign. Seven years later, Jahangir’s son Shah Jahan, who was no less a lover of natural beauty, constructed cascades and aqueducts in straight lines through and around the fine garden which he, in order to enhance further the beauty of the place laid out in front of the spring. He also built hot and cold baths to the east of this garden, just outside of it, of which little trace is now left. The spring is the main source of the mighty river Jhelum. The water contained in an octagonal spring has crystal blue water in which a variety of big fishes live. History and the carvings on stones in Persian on the walls surrounding the spring tell about how this great source of underwater spring is contained without revealing its architecture.