Agra served as the capital of Mughals and they adorned this city with monuments and sites. These ancient structures are now among the most visited places in the city, the Taj Mahal being one of them. The city which saw several dynasties, Mughal being for the longest times, now narrates its glorious past, jeweled with gems of architectural beauty and history that is lost in time. Mehtab Garden of Agra is one of such gems that was lost in time and ASI dragged it out of its darkness, making the garden bloom again with the same fragrance it used to have back then.
Mehtab garden or MehtabbBagh was Shah Jahan’s personal garden and he got it decorated with lots of plants, trees, and several other elements. Once the garden was the king’s favorite spot to cherish the beauty of Taj Mahal, centuries later, was lost and forgotten. But now, it shines again, though not with the same glory but when you travel there, you will realize how beautiful Mehtab garden of Agra would be when it was in its full swing.
Read Here – UNESCO World Heritage Site Taj Mahal
A Brief History of Mehtab Garden Agra
Mehtab garden was built by the first Mughal emperor Babur. It is said that the Mehtab bagh was the 11th of the gardens which the emperor had built by Yamuna side. Just opposite to Taj Mahal, this bagh was based on the charbagh plan. This plan is an Islamic quadrilateral garden plan which is similar to the four gardens of Paradise which the Quran mentions.
Built in 1503, later Shah Jahan identified this place as the most suitable to view Taj Mahal and he chose to construct it as per his needs. He created a moon-shaped garden along with fountains and pools. Later on, the layout was changed to a square plan.
Read Here – Agra Fort
When Mughal reign came to an end, the kings of Amer captured and owned Mehtab Garden. They also owned Taj Mahal. Facts state that the kings never paid any significant attention to the garden and the place started to lose its charm and turned into ruins.
Views of Taj Mahal from the Moonlight Garden
Though originally built by Babur, Shah Jahan some 100 years later chose this place where he could sit and just enjoy the marvelous glimpses of Taj Mahal. The garden was then turned into a leisure spot for the king. Octagonal pools with fountains, flowers with mesmerizing fragrance, trees with fruits, white plaster walkways, airy pavilions, and several other structures were made inside the garden. It was designed and recreated as a part of Taj Mahal complex.
The king would sit here and look at the majestically beautiful Taj Mahal. The monument looks remarkable during the early and late hours. During the late evening hours, when the moon showers its glory on the white marble mausoleum, the beauty is beyond any verbal description. That was the reason this garden was known as Moonlight garden.
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Site Plan of Mehtab Bagh Agra
The garden is built in an area of 300 meters by 300 meters. As per the records, it is found that the garden also connects other gardens to the west side which were known as Chahar Bagh Padshahi and Second Chahar Bagh Padshahi. The garden is surrounded by a wall of lime plaster, brick, and red sandstone which is 289 meters long. It is said to have octagonal domed towers which were built of red sandstone in the corners. At present, only one of the towers is standing.
A large pond was built in the octagonal shape on the southern periphery. The pond would reflect the image of the Taj Mahal in it which was an incredible phenomenon. The Eastern side has a small tank. The northern wall has a gate. There are some ruined structures on the south and north of the pond. These are believed to be the pavilions.
Restoration Work at Mehtab Garden
The garden was lost for years covered by alluvial silt, the mound of sand from the river, and vegetation. People had almost forgotten its existence by the 1900s. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) started the Mughal garden research survey. The survey was based on archaeological excavation techniques, paleobotanical assessment, historical documentation, etc. The restoration work was carried out which was supported by the US started in the 1990s. The garden was fenced with barbed wires, ASI planned to plant the same trees and plants which the Mughals had in the garden. However, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) proposed to plan 25 pollution controlling plant species but ASI didn’t approve that. Later, the matter was intervened by the Supreme Court and favored ASI’s decision to have the plants which Mughals had in the gardens so that the garden’s original charm could be restored. (Wikipedia)
The landscape artists of ASI planned for the same trees and plants. Around 81 plant species were planted which were found in Mughal horticulture. Some of them included
– Citrus fruit plants
As per the plan, the tall trees were followed by the shorter trees. After this, the shrubs were planted which were followed by the flowering plants in the last.
ASI excavated nearly 90,000 cubic meters of earth from the site in 1994. During the excavation process, a massive octagonal pond was found which had 25 fountains, a garden which had 4 compartments. The excavation also found the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, halfway from the ends of the bagh and the main entrance of Taj Mahal complex.
How to reach Mehtab Bagh?
Though the garden is situated just opposite Taj Mahal but you need to enter the bagh from the other side of the river. It takes around 20 minutes to reach here. The total road distance is nearly 7-8 kilometers. You can book a cab online or you can find cabs, auto-rickshaw at Taj Mahal too, both shared and personal.
The nearest airport to Mehtab Garden is Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Airport and the nearest railway station is Agra Fort Railway station.
What is the visiting time of Mehtab Garden?
The garden remains open every day of the week. The timings to visit Mehtab Garden are from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
What is the best time to visit Mehtab Garden?
The best time to visit Mehtab Bagh is in the early morning hours. The entrance opens at 6:00 AM and you can visit there around this time. Also, you can visit the garden in the evening hours too. I visited there around noon after visiting Itimad-ud-daula tomb after having breakfast at Ram babu paratha bhandar. During the morning hours, you won’t find many people here and you can let your senses enjoy this beauty.
The garden remains a choice of couples for photoshoots during the evening hours when the elegance of the garden reaches a different level. Not just photoshoot, people just sit and stare at the Taj Mahal.
Mehtab Garden entry ticket
The ticket of Mehtab garden can be purchased from the entrance of the garden. However, the ticket can be booked online as well. There are many online websites to book the ticket. However, I recommend you use yatra.com since I have personally used this website a lot of times, especially in Delhi.
Here are the ticket prices of Mehtab Garden
Indian visitor – 20 INR
Foreign Visitor – 250 INR
SAARC, BIMSTEC Visitor – 20 INR