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Mughal Garden

The Mughal Garden is Shangri La’s microcosm of the royal gardens found throughout the Indian subcontinent. 

Syrian Room

The Syrian Room is one of Shangri La’s most cohesive spaces: a period room created for posterity, echoing those found in a number of other museums.

Damascus Room

The Damascus Room is a highlight of the Islamic art collection assembled by Doris Duke (1912–93) and is one of two Syrian interiors preserved at Shangri La.

Entry Courtyard

Visitors to Shangri La descend a long driveway shielded by dense foliage and first encounter the main house from within an open-air space known variously as the entry or banyan courtyard.

Foyer

The foyer is the first room that visitors enter in the main house, and it provides an introduction to Doris Duke (1912–93) as a collector and patron, to the visual language of Islamic art, and to the experience of Islamic art that Shangri La offers.

Central Courtyard

The main house at Shangri La revolves around a central courtyard, an architectural feature central to a number of buildings in the Islamic world.

Living Room

The living room preserves a number of important works of art from North Africa and Spain.

Mihrab Room

The Mihrab Room preserves a number of masterpieces in the DDFIA collection, particularly architectural tilework produced during the Ilkhanid period (1226–1353).

Dining Room

The dining room is Doris Duke’s (1912–93) interpretation of an Islamic-style tent.

Playhouse

Located on the west end of the property and adjacent to the ocean, the Playhouse at Shangri La is a poolside pavilion inspired by the Chehel Sutun (c. 1647–50) palace in Isfahan, the capital of Iran from 1598 to 1722. 

Mughal Garden

The Mughal Garden is Shangri La’s microcosm of the royal gardens found throughout the Indian subcontinent. 

Private Hall

The private hall is located off the central courtyard and terminates in the Mughal Suite.

Mughal Suite

The Mughal Suite is located at the end of a private hall extending from the central courtyard.

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Mughal Garden. (Photo: Tim Street-Porter, 2011.)

Mughal Garden. (Photo: Tim Street-Porter, 2011.)


The Mughal Garden is Shangri La’s microcosm of the royal gardens found throughout the Indian subcontinent. Located off the entry courtyard and oriented along the property’s dominant east-west axis, it features a plain white façade with an arched entrance similar to the adjacent entrance leading into the foyer of the main house. During her 1935 honeymoon travels in India, Doris Duke (1912–93) was exposed to the expansive and sumptuous gardens of the high Mughal period, particularly those built in the cities of Agra, Delhi and Lahore during the reigns of the “great” Mughal emperors Akbar (r. 1556–1605), Jahangir (r. 1605–27), and Shah Jahan (r. 1628–58). These gardens typically included small marble pavilions with cusped arches and inlaid floral surfaces; brickwork pathways with geometric designs; long water channels with lotus-shaped fountain heads; marble water cascades with niches known as chinikhana (Persian: porcelain house); and geometric planting beds (parterres) with scented trees and colorful flowers.

Early on in Shangri La’s history, c. 1938–41, the Mughal Garden was known as the “allée.” In this original incarnation, it featured several elements standard to Mughal gardens—water channel with lotus-style fountain heads, chinikhana cascade, large four-lobed pool (west end)—which Duke would have seen during her 1935 travels in India. Two decades later, after a visit to Shalimar Gardens (1637) in Lahore, Pakistan, Duke resolved to transform the allée into a more fully realized microcosm of a Mughal garden. Toward this end, she requested drawings and photographs of the brickwork pathways in Shalimar Gardens from the site’s superintendent of archaeology. These designs then guided the creation of similar brickwork pathways at Shangri La (48.513), which were installed down the length of the water channel and also crisscrossed in the center, thereby suggesting the four-part scheme (chahar bagh, Persian: four gardens) common to Mughal gardens. On either side of the pathway, parterres in alternating shapes were constructed in white stone and planted with cyprus trees, citrus, caladium, and poinsettia. In a 1966 article for Vogue magazine, the now complete garden was described as a “miniature version of the famous Mogul gardens at Lahore.”

Historical Images

Construction of the allée, which would in the 1960s become known as the Mughal Garden, October 23, 1937. Shangri La Historical Archives, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. The view into the allée, showing the original bamboo gate, and the birdcage beyond the fountain, 1938–39. Shangri La Historical Archives, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. The allée in mid-late 1941. Doris Duke Photograph Collection, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Historical Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. The allée in November 1946. Visible in the distance is a mosaic tile panel purchased from Ayoub Rabenou in 1941. Doris Duke Photograph Collection, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Historical Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Water cascades over niches (chinikhana) in the Mughal Garden, 1999. Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. (Photo: David Franzen, 1999.) The entrance to the Mughal Garden, with the tile spandrel still installed, 2006. Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawai'i. (Photo: David Franzen, 2006.)
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Other resources: 

The Age of the Mughals,” Victoria and Albert Museum.

Damascus Room
Private Hall
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