Wah gardens

Tranquility of Mughal Wah Gardens in Wah Cantt Taxila

The Wah Gardens, made by the Mughals near present-day Wah Cantt, are still as royal and tranquil as they were three centuries ago.

The heritage Wah Cantt mosques and Gardens (old town) are at an hour’s drive from Islamabad. Wah Cantt lies on the way to the place. We reached Wah Gardens and Wah Cantt in cool weather, averaging 22 0 C.

Route to Wah Gardens in Wah Cantt Taxila

The Wah Gardens are on the Grand Trunk Road, near the Town of Wah Cantonment.

Wah Gardens, Wah Cantt Route from Islamabad on the GT road
Wah Gardens, Wah Cantt Route from Islamabad on the GT road

 

Wah Gardens Pool

Jalal Sar is the new Name for Wah Gardens

Jalal Sar was the ancient name of Wah Gardens (old town), named by the Hindu Chauhan Rajput convert family, the Khattars’ – lately known as the Hayats (Ref. Col CH Hall accounts). Khattars were Darogha (caretakers) of the resting place that the Mughals used during their campaigns in Afghanistan.

One of their most prominent scions was Sikandar Hayat Khan, the most loyal of natives in North-West India, to the colonial British.

History of Wah Gardens of Mughals

‘Wah’ (Wow!) was what Jahangir named this paradise of:-

  • Waterfalls
  • Streams
  • Fish-filled ponds
  • Baradari
  • Hunting forest land.
  • Military Headquarter
  • Harem

Nowadays, it is called Wah (Mughal) Gardens.

Akbar’s General Maan Singh (stationed here in 1581-1586) formally gave this naturally protected paradise, the shape of a garden.

Mughal Gardens Wah 

Jahangir frequented the Wah Gardens while crisscrossing Wah several times and mentioned it in his travelogue of April 1607 saying

  • “There are a lot of fish in the pond having a length of a quarter of a yard. I caught about 10-12 fishes, these were released again after sewing their snouts with pearls’.

Shahjehan in 1639 improved the structure further

Aurangzeb, in 1674-1675, made this place his administrative HQ, and named it Farudgah (resting place), during his campaigns of Herat and Jalalabad, Afghanistan. This was even though he had Attock fort right at the border and Rohtas fort as his rearguard.

Aurangzeb eventually lost interest and shifted his fighting East and Southwards.

Wah Gardens Resting Chambers

Mughal Gardens Hassanabdal

Wah Gardens was one of the several resting places like Attock, Kamra, Hasanabdal, Rawat, etc. that dotted the Grand Trunk Road. There is a Mughal Garden in Lahore as well.

Sher Shah Suri’s Grand trunk road traversed India from Attock to Bengal.

Importance of Wah Cantt and Wah Gardens

Wah straddles the main invasion route from Afghanistan towards India proper and was naturally protected by Rock Mountains from the north, south, and West.

Pool of Mughal Gardens Wah

Although most of the fresco work and embellishments in the Wah Garden are damaged, the black and white tiled streams are still visible and so is the Baradari. 

The archeology department has done a great job preserving samples of the original aqueduct for visitors and some fish in the ponds. Unfortunately, the mountain rams and game, of the Mughal times, have long become extinct.

We have a new kind of animal breed in town, called humans, and lots of them.

Several Mughal era tombs of notables are visible below the peaceful banyan tree, at one end of the Wah gardens. The actual garden is long encroached and ravaged. Probably a small plot of 200 kanals is left for us to enjoy.

Marhi of Hayat family

Driving straight ahead on a service road beyond Wah Garden, a prominent building appears right in front, on higher grounds. I was told this was the fort of Khattars’ or the Marhi of Hayats (Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan Family).

I parked my car on the ramp that rose steeply towards the main gate of the fort like ‘Marhi’ (mansion in the local language). One caretaker told me I’d have to get permission from another dude living a mile back from where I drove in – forget that!

I think it would serve the Hayat family’s plan better if they let people into their Marhi. This is not the Mughal times or the British tyranny where locals had no voice.

The little of what I did see of the Marhi was grand. One tower-like corner rose high above the main structure and could be seen from far away. This Marhi was protected by a 30-foot stone wall, all around.

I left the Khattar-Hayat Marhi visit for the next time and moved on to the ancient Wah Mughal Mosque in the same old Wah town.

The Wah Cantt grand mosque

It was built in the Mughal times, at the Western tip of the Wah Mughal Gardens, close to the Khattar-Hayat Marhi. Clearwater still flows beneath this beautiful Mughal Styled mosque, situated in the center of a Fruit garden.

Its exact date of construction is not known, as later-day Hayat progeny have been extending the structure, over the years. The paintings, designs, and patterns all over the inner walls and roof of this beautiful mosque, are a treat to see. It is like a miniature Badshahi mosque in Lahore, on the wayside of Grand Trunk Road.

Returning from Wah old town, we drove straight into Wah Cantonment. Here too the guardians of the privileged asked rude questions like we belong to an enemy country. Travelers don’t get to see priceless gems of heritage in Pakistan, because our security guards are there to make sure no one does.

Sher Shah Suri Garden Wah Cantt

We landed at the Sher Shah Suri Garden which has a Laosar Baoli (watering hole). Sher Shah Suri’s Grand Trunk Road is the Wah Cantonment Mall road. I am sure there would be many other heritage sites in close vicinity that no one has access to.  

Laosar Baoli has hundreds of steps going deep down to the pit of the watering hole, where man and beast could both drink (in separate enclosures). Local legend says Sher Shah’s horses frequented this hole for a drink.

Travel beautiful mosques Pakistan

After a good three hours of discovery, we made a pit stop at the local restaurant on the Wah cantonment mall road, had tarkay waali daal and naan with doodh patti and headed back home.

Churches of Wah Cantt

On the way back we saw two beautiful Churches inside Wah Cantt, which the Christian community people did not let us visit. I guess everyone’s scared of their shadow in Pakistan, not just me. The most outstanding thing in Wah Cantt is the Wah Cantt Jamia Masjid, which is embellished like a Cathedral from the inside. The pictures of Wah Cantonment Jamia Masjid are beautiful.

So there you have it, my top 5 places of Wah old town and Wah Cantonment, especially the Wah Cantt mosque and Gardens in Pakistan.

Frequently Asked Questions on Mughal Wah Gardens

People generally ask these questions on Wah Cantt and Gardens:-

What is the weather of Wah Cantt?

The weather of Wah Cantt is usually hot in the summer but the several parks in Wah Cantt have many shady trees to protect you.

Which is the best hotel in Wah?

There are many guest houses inside Wah Cantt, especially the POF Factory guest house hotel.

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2 Comments

  1. Sir,
    According to the Earliest Account of the Scholar General Cunningham, The Khattars are descended from the Royal Clan of the Little Yuchi, who Ruled in Peshawar, Chitral, and Attock District.
    Why you and others prefer to make them Hindus is beyond me.
    According to some Wedding Rites?
    No one takes note of Genetic Traits like Hairy Bodies, Fierce Temperments, and Fair Skin (Chitta Khattars Branch).
    The Kala Khattars (No Disrespect intended) are probably an attached Tribe of Locals (Shades of Kala Chitta Hills of Attock District).
    But Allah Ta’ala Knows Best.
    As far as Darogahs are concerned, that again is False. You mention that the place was named Jallalsar (Named by Jamal Khan Khattar after his eldest son – Jallal Khan and Sar which is Turkish for Head Waters or springs).
    When the Mughals held sway, they displaced the locals to a site behind the present Mughal Gardens.
    Upon resistance the Head of The Family and his dependents were transported and imprisoned in Kangra Fort.
    Only one Scion survived the Massacres of Partition and is now settled in Hasanabdal (Dr. Sikandar Hyat Khan not the son of Sardar Shaukat Hyat-Khan S/O Sir Sikandar Hyat-Khan).
    Kindly mention that controversies exist as to antecedents and avoid authoritative statements.
    Yours Sincerely

    1. Thank you for your kind reply. Your comment jas added to our knolwledge. It is an opinion piece and inputs are always welcocmed.

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