The so-called Royal Spring Garden (Chashme Shahi Garden) of Jaipur has an actual spring on the third of its terraces. A pavilion encloses the spring, and although it is the only pavilion in the garden now, there used to be another one on the second terrace. For some reason, only the pavilion to the south remains now. The spring it encloses runs down all the way to the first terrace, the part of the garden with the lowest elevation, and feeds into the pool with fountains on that level. The water runs down the other two terraces by means of a water-carrying channel that is locally called “chadar”, a type of small-scale aqueduct that relies on the differences in elevation created by the terracing to channel the water to the pool in the lowest terrace.
Many stories surround Chashme Shahi. One of them even claims that one of the most famous shahs, the Shah Jahan, took his favoured wife Mumtaz Mahal (for whom the Taj Mahal was constructed) to this garden during his visits to the area and that she managed to recover from several spells of bad health by coming here. There is also a famous account, generally more widely accepted, of one of the saints of Kashmir named Rupa Bhawani, who was also known for her poetry and Pandit descent, having been the one to discover the supposedly mystical spring that flows through the garden. The spring was actually known even before the gardens came to be, as a matter of fact, for the garden was built to surround the spring. The Governor Ali Mardan was responsible for this project.
The architectural style of Chashme Shahi is patently evocative of the Mughal love of geometry. There is a wonderful symmetry through it all, from the paired flights of steps running from one terrace to another to the rectangular pool with parallel lanes and flowering shrubs beside it. There are five fountains in the pool and they continue the symmetrical geometry of the prevailing motif: one fountain goes to each corner of the rectangular pool and the fifth one is in the centre like an anchor.
Chashme Shahi is ideally situated if you want to be able to visit other attractions after it without much trouble: south of it is the famous Pari Mahal while north of it is another of the more popular gardens around Dal Lake, the Nishat Bagh. It is not among the truly large gardens in the area, but it still does cover a nice parcel of land, taking up an area about 108m in length and 38m in width.
Nowadays, people still visit the garden for many reasons not unrelated to the legends surrounding its past. There are a number who credit the tales of it having been a healing spring for various visitors, and who thus come here to try and benefit from the supposed curative properties of the waters. Others believe that it is an important site primarily for its history and the saint who discovered the spring that has lent its name to it. Others merely come to see the beauty of the place, though, which is just as good a reason as any.