The 'Char Bagh' or 'enclosed four part' garden was the original Paradise Garden. It is sometimes known as the 'Universal Garden', not only for its widespread and long period of use, but also because it was regarded as an icon for the universe itself.
This form of garden spread throughout the Muslim world between the 8th and 18th centuries. The complex symbolism behind this form of garden has its very ancient roots in three of the world's great religions - Islam, Christianity and Buddhism.
The Mughal emperors were descendants of Genghis Kahn who spread their empire eastwards from Persia into northern India from the 13thcentury onwards. As part of their conquest they brought Islam to India and Persian garden design to the Indian subcontinent.
These gardens had a focus on water and irrigation because of their origin in the hot and dry climate of present-day Iran. As they spread across the continent, their design was adapted to the local conditions, but the basic design features remained. They had geometric layouts with strong symmetry. Water features were subtle and designed to bubble and trickle rather than splash, in order to preserve water.
The Indian Char Bagh gardens were not just places to walk through. They were poetic, secret pleasure gardens with sensuous perfumes of flowers in a living Persian Carpet. They allowed the viewer to relax, feel the breeze in the cool shade of an open sided Pavilion, watch the clouds glide behind white turrets and hear the sound of sparkling water in the fountains and pools.
The type that has been developed at Hamilton Gardens is the Riverside Garden with a plan very similar to the Taj Mahal on a very much smaller scale. A small hunting palace near Agra, called Lal Mahal, has inspired the Hamilton Garden's Char Bagh garden.