Known today as Aam Khas Bagh, this unique Mughal garden complex was originally named for Hafiz Rakhna, the talented revenue collector of Sirhind. He laid out the garden in the sixteenth century, thereby introducing to India a formal garden tradition from Central Asia and Persia. After his death, Mughal emperors including Jahangir (r. 1605–27) and Shah Jahan (r. 1627–58) showed great interest in the garden and ordered new plantings and improvements. The garden, which complements an elegant palace, consists of three rectangular enclosures and includes domed bastions, an artificial lake, a long water channel punctuated with carved fountains, and a traditional bathhouse, known as a hammam. The garden has been recognized by the state government of Punjab as a key monument along the historic Grand Trunk Road, which has been used to traverse the north of the Indian subcontinent for centuries. A popular destination for school groups, the garden needs improved interpretive materials to help visitors understand what they see and increase public awareness of its great significance. It is hoped that a conservation and interpretation project will reveal more about the history of the site, the first Mughal garden on the Indian subcontinent.
Since the Watch
A conservation plan for Bagh-i-Hafiz has been commissioned by The Government of Punjab with Phase 1 of the project anticipated to be implemented in 2015-2016. Phase 1 will include the removal of non-historic structures and the conservation of the historic Naughara and Sheesh Mahal buildings. A revitalization plan to convert the existing eight-room hotel on the site into an interpretation centre, with visitor amenities and an artist residency facility, has also been proposed for Phase 1 of the project. Subsequent phases will focus on the historic open spaces and the conservation and protection of the complex as a whole. March 2015