Professor Nanji Contributes to the Book 'Paradise Found'
Professor Azim Nanji contributed a chapter to a coffee table book on the horticultural treasures of Asia. The book, titled Paradise Found: Journeys through Noble Gardens of Asia, was launched at the Chelsea Flower show by H R.H. Princess Alexandra as part of The Royal Hospital Chelsea’s latest fundraising initiative.
The book consists of stunning photographs and features over 40 contributions on the beautiful and historical gardens of Asia along with a foreword by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales. The chapter by Professor Nanji is on a 17th century Mughal Garden in Lahore, Pakistan - the Shalimar Bagh. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, built during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan, was meant to replicate the Islamic idea of paradise.
Garden and landscape architecture in Muslim contexts, according to Professor Nanji, “has been an important expression of ethical assumptions about stewardship, ecology, and the presence of beauty in the design of the built environment”. The Shalimar Garden, like other Mughal gardens, “inspired poetry and literature, laden with symbolic references to the harmony of form and essence, the purity of water, the profusion of life, the transient and created nature of life, pointing ultimately to each individual’s destiny and the remembrance of whence he originated”.
All the proceeds from the book will contribute towards the Chelsea Pensioners’ Appeal to fund the modernisation works at The Royal Hospital. At a time when global warming is becoming a pressing issue, this beautiful book, highlighting the aesthetic and spiritual joys of gardens and the harmony generated by being close to nature, is an important contribution.