Charbagh or Chahar Bagh (Persian: چھار باغ chahār bāgh, Hindi: चारबाग़ chārbāgh, Urdu: چار باغ chār bāgh, meaning "four gardens") is a Persian and Indo-Persian quadrilateral garden layout based on the four gardens of Paradise mentioned in the Quran. The quadrilateral garden is divided by walkways or flowing water into four smaller parts. They are found in countries throughout Western Asia and South Asia, including Iran and India.
The quadrilateral Charbagh concept is interpreted as the four gardens of Paradise mentioned in Chapter (Surah) 55, Ar-Rahman "The Beneficient", in the Qur'an:
And for him, who fears to stand before his Lord, are two gardens. (Chapter 55: Verse 46)
And beside them are two other gardens. (Chapter 55: Verse 62)
One of the hallmarks of Charbagh garden is the four-part garden laid out with axial paths that intersect at the garden's centre. This highly structured geometrical scheme, called the chahar bagh, became a powerful method for the organization and domestication of the landscape, itself a symbol of political territory.
The Chahrbagh-e Abbasi (or Charbagh Avenue) in Isfahan, Iran, built by Shah Abbas the Great in 1596, and the garden of the Taj Mahal in India are the most famous examples of this style. In the Charbagh at the Taj Mahal, each of the four parts contains sixteen flower beds.
In India, the Char Bagh concept in imperial mausoleums is seen in Humayun's Tomb in Delhi in a monumental scale. Humayan's father was the Central Asian Conqueror Babur who succeeded in laying the basis for the Mughal dynasty in the Indian Subcontinent and became the first Mughal emperor. The tradition of paradise garden brought to India by the Mughals, originally from Central Asia, which is found at Babur's tomb, Bagh-e Babur, in Kabul.
This tradition gave birth to the Mughal gardens design and displayed its high form in the Taj Mahal — built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, the great, great, grandson of the Central Asian Conqueror Babur, as a tomb for his favourite Indian wife Mumtaz Mahal, in Agra, India. Unlike most such tombs, the mausoleum is not in the centre of the garden, however archaeological excavations have revealed another garden opposite indicating that historically the mausoleum was centered as in tomb garden tradition. The garden features Italian cypress trees (Cupressus sempervirens) that symbolize death. Fruit trees in the garden symbolize life. The garden attracts many birds, which are considered one of the features of the garden.
In Pakistan, the Mughal Shalimar Gardens and the garden in the Tomb of Jehangir in Lahore are based on the Charbagh concept.
A charbagh is located on the roof top of the Ismaili Centre in South Kensington, London. The Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, located on Sussex Drive in the Canadian capital Ottawa, Ontario contains a charbagh in a modern setting. The Ismaili Center and Aga Khan Museum in Toronto features a modern interpretation of a charbagh between the buildings. The University of Alberta Botanic Garden features a charbagh in the Aga Khan Gardens