After visiting the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort, I still had some spare time in Agra. So, I started looking for other places to visit nearby. When I learnt about Mehtab Bagh, a garden that provided another chance to look at the Taj Mahal, I knew I had to visit this place.
Mehtab Bagh is also known as the ‘Moon Garden’ or ‘Moonlit Garden’. Originally it was built by the Mughal Emperor Babur during the 16th century as one of the eleven Mughal gardens. Later on, when Shah Jahan planned to build the Taj Mahal on the banks of river Yamuna, he decided to utilize the site on the opposite side of the river too.
This is where Mehtab Bagh is located. Shah Jahan further added to the beauty of this garden by constructing pavilions, fountains, pools, walkways and by planting flower and fruit bearing trees.
It is said that Emperor Shah Jahan envisioned this place as a venue to enjoy the picturesque beauty of moonlit Taj Mahal and its reflection in water during night.
The word ‘Mehtab’ means light of the moon.
It is believed that this garden was an integral part of the plan of the Taj Mahal’s construction. Its location and perfect symmetry with Taj Mahal is evidence of it.
On one bank of the river Yamuna, Taj Mahal stands proudly and on the other is this beautiful lush garden. These gardens are also called ‘Mughal Riverfront Gardens of Agra’.
I bought my ticket from the ticket counter situated right at the gate.
As I was visiting Mehtab Bagh after the monsoon season, the garden appeared lush green. Most of the ground was covered in grass. The garden was a refreshing change after the traffic and chaos of the city. I was welcomed by the chirping of birds and cool breeze.
Walking straight into the garden, I could notice a variety of trees and plants like guava, hibiscus, neem, ashoka and jamun. Though there were a large number of trees and shrubs around, Taj Mahal was clearly visible.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) discovered this site in the 1990s. The garden was almost lost with the time as the layers of sand, soil and wild vegetation kept it hidden for years. Some remains of the structures were unearthed by the ASI during this excavation in the 1990s.
These can be seen in the garden. Efforts were made to restore the previous glory of this garden. Many flower bearing and fruit bearing plants and trees were planted.
The garden is spread over an area of about 300 square meters. It was developed as a green belt that provides a buffer zone to Taj Mahal in addition to providing a different view of the Taj to its visitors.
Just like something out of a movie, Taj Mahal appeared in front of my eyes. It was close and yet so far away. Mesmerised by its beauty, I started walking towards it. Soon I noticed the boundary wall that stood between us and then there was river Yamuna.
For a moment it felt like nobody else existed except the two of us. This is what Taj Mahal and too much romanticism does to you.
After this special moment, I decided to relax for a while in shade. It seemed like locals frequented this garden more than the tourists. There were families out on a picnic, couples sitting at various places and tourists clicking pictures.
Mehtab Bagh is located in Forest Colony, Nagla Devjit region of Agra. It takes about half an hour to reach here from the Taj Mahal. Taxis and Autos are easily available to visit Mehtab Bagh.
The best time to visit Mehtab Bagh is October to March. Early morning is the best time if you want to avoid crowds.I won’t recommend visiting during summer as Agra experiences scorching heat during this season. During monsoon, frequent rainfall may spoil the fun of strolling around in the garden.
Tickets cost INR 15 for the citizens of India, SAARC and BIMSTEC countries, INR 200 for other foreigners.
Free for children upto age 15 years.
Mehtab Bagh is open throughout the week from sunrise to sunset. In case you are in Agra on a Friday when Taj Mahal is closed, Mehtab Bagh provides an opportunity to have a look at Taj and click some good pictures too.
Though it’s obviously no match to getting a closer look at this beauty but ‘something is better than nothing’.
The chance to admire the iconic monument Taj Mahal, without being swarmed with hundreds of other visitors around, should not be missed. Mehtab Bagh provides a different viewpoint for the Taj.
Though this garden is gaining popularity among the visitors now and more people flock towards it everyday than before.
There is also a story about this garden. According to this story, Shah Jahan intended to build a black Taj Mahal similar to the original one, at this site. He was unable to do so as he was imprisoned by his son, Aurangzeb.
Remains of the foundations that were discovered in this garden were assumed to be hinting towards this story but later on it came into light that those foundations belonged to a pond that was built by Babur.
Why should you visit Mehtab Bagh?
This place is a photographer’s delight. You get a chance to see and click the Taj Mahal from a different perspective. Get creative with your photographs and make the most of this second best place to take pictures with Taj Mahal. I also saw a few couples getting their pictures clicked for wedding related shoots here. The low boundary wall helps a lot in getting some good creative pictures.
I’d suggest you wear something colorful and bright to get better pictures with the pristine white Taj Mahal in the backdrop.
Many varieties of birds and trees create a peaceful and natural ambience. This makes it a great place for picnic or outing with family or friends. If you are a nature lover like me, you can spend about 2 hours at this place otherwise an hour is sufficient.
The most important thing to keep in mind is the time when you visit it. Best to avoid visiting when it is hot outside.
Early morning and sunset would be the right time to spend some time in this tranquil garden. Having a lot of time in hand? Relax and sit down under a tree or just carry a good book with you to keep you company.
Right before leaving, I wanted to take another glance at the Taj. I saw two men sitting together silently on the boundary wall facing the Taj Mahal. Seemingly oblivious to the world around them, they were holding hands and listening to something using one pair of earphones.
I averted my gaze towards the Taj Mahal- The epitome of Love!
A warm feeling filled my heart and a smile crept upon my face.