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Ideal time : 1 - 2 hours

Entry Fee : Indians and SAARC nations' members- INR 30
Foreigners- INR 200

Timings : 06:00 AM - 06:00 PM

Mehtab Bagh, Agra Overview

Located just north to the glorious wonder called the Taj Mahal and overlooking the Agra Fort and Yamuna river on the opposite side, Mehtab Bagh is one of the last Mughal gardens and one of the most scenic spots in Agra. Perfectly quadrilateral in shape and colloquially known as the Moonlight garden, the stunning Mehtab Bagh is the last one of the eleven similar Mughal- built garden complexes along the Yamuna bank. Laid out in just the right symmetry and perfectly aligned with the gardens of Taj Mahal, the garden provides a picture-perfect view of the Taj from the fountain at the front of the entrance gate. Mehtab Bagh is a popular sunset spot among the photography fanatics and nature enthusiasts.

The splendid Mehtab Bagh has four sandstone towers, one each at the corner with a huge octagonal tank right in the centre. It is believed that Shah Jahan especially got the bagh designed for his personal interests so he could come up here and admire the infinite beauty of his favourite piece of art. On the moonlit nights, the clear reflection of the wondrous Taj Mahal in the waters of the park is a sight beyond description. Mehtabh Bagh is now a horticulture delight with scores of vibrantly blooming floral plants and medicinal herbs, besides the umpteen fruit trees, which add to the beauty of the park.

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Architecture of Mehtab Bagh

Mehtab Bagh reflects typical Mughal style of architecture, with a four garden layout, square in shape and measuring 300 metres on each side. The garden compound is constructed with red sandstone, brick and lime plaster. Two major elements of the garden include the octagonal domed tower made of red sandstone inside the garden and the large octagonal pond located towards the southern side. The pond's beauty lies in the fact that it displays the reflection of Taj Mahal on it.

There is a stepped waterfall present in the north of the garden that feeds this pond. The garden is characterized with four towers, one on each corner. Out of these four, only one tower stands today, which is present towards the south-east side. There is a large water tank on the east, with many water channels covering the garden to ensure that every part of it remains flourished. There are baradaris on the west and east of the garden. The garden also houses two ruined structures which are presumed to be the garden pavilions that did not survive the passage of time. There is an aqueduct in the north that feed the garden. Another significant structure in the garden is the small Dalit shrine near the entrance. The overall architecture of Mehtab Bagh is further enhanced by the many nurseries of plants that are being added to the garden along with temples, statues and others.

Historical Significance

Initially built in 1530 by the Mughal Emperor Babur, the striking Mehtab Bagh fell into disrepair until Shah Jahan identified it as the perfect viewing spot for the Taj Mahal and stepped up to soak in its beauty. It was then removed from the floodplains and stack of filth and converted into a “moonlit pleasure garden” in the Persian - style layout with plastered pavilions elevated walkways, ornamental fountains and pretty pools. By the early 1900s, frequent flooding and misuse of the resources reduced the once enchanting garden to an enormous pile of sand with overgrowth of weed and wild plants.

In 1994, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) surveyed the site and carried out detailed research to get to the verity about the rumoured Black Taj Mahal only to find it was a myth. Rather, the excavations unearthed an octagonal tank, 25 water fountains and a four - complex divided compartment, all suggesting the possibility of a well-established garden at the site. Later, the discovery of a letter by Aurangzeb to Shah Jahan in 1652 AD, referring to the condition of Mehtab Bagh during flood events further verify the authenticity. Today, ASI is making efforts to restore the charming spot to its original state. The imposing Mehtab Bagh is already on its way to recovery with numerous trees of citrus, guava and hibiscus, and brightly blooming seasonal flowers.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Mehtab Bagh in Agra is either early in the morning or during sunset because Taj Mahal presents a spectacular look during these times. It is not advisable to visit the garden or stroll around it during the afternoons in the peak summer months since summer in Agra is hot, humid and uncomfortable. During monsoon, frequent showers flood the garden and make the soil sticky to be strolled on. Thus, the best season to visit is the winter season when the sky is clear and the afternoons are comfortable to remain outdoors. 

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