Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal is a symbol of India’s rich history.
You have probably seen images of the magnificent mausoleum online. But neither words nor breathtaking photography can give justice to its beauty. One has to witness its magnificence personally in order to fully appreciate its splendor.
Commissioned by the emperor Shah Jahan in 1632, the Taj Mahal stands in Agra, North India. It is a grand romantic gesture in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Built in the course of more than 20 years, the immense white marble mausoleum occupies nearly 17 hectares of land.
The Taj Mahal is considered one of the world’s finest architectural and artistic masterpieces. Perfectly symmetrical and adorned with quality marbles and precious stones, it showcases incredible Indo-Islamic design and craftsmanship. Every element harmoniously blends into an overall unique aesthetic.
North of the Taj Mahal is Mehtab Bagh, a Turkish-style garden complex that is also known as ‘The Moonlight Garden’. The idea behind it was to create a serene place where the beauty of Taj Mahal could be appreciated in all its glory and splendor on moonlit nights.
The Mehtab Bagh is one of eleven similar gardens that were built by the Mughals. These gardens lining the banks of Yamuna River are among the most significant historical features of Agra city.
Historical texts mentioned that Mehtab Bagh once was a recreational complex that had pools, airy pavilions, fountains and fruit bearing trees.
However, frequent flooding had ruined most parts of the garden. By the early 1990’s, the once picturesque charbagh complex had been reduced to just a mound of sand where wild vegetation grew.
A restoration project headed by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) started in 1994 with the main goal of returning it back to its original state as a legitimate Mughal garden. Landscape artists extensively planned the replanting of greenery that would match original Mughal gardens that still exist in the country.
The passing time has proved their hard work and efforts paid off. Currently, there are more than 80 plant types adopted from Mughal horticulture in Mehtab Bagh.
The centuries-old garden, strategically located across the Yumana River, is impeccably aligned with the Taj Mahal. As such, it is one of the best places to view and take panoramic photographs of the Taj Mahal.
From there, you can see the glistening white marble surface of Taj Mahal change colours depending on the time of day. The visitors can see different colour combinations at sunrise, noon, sunset and night time. This makes the view even more majestic.
Mehtab Bagh is open from sunrise to sunset. There is no time limit as to how long one could stay in the vicinity. You can spend at least an hour or two inside the gardens if you are in a rush.
There is an entry fee for locals and foreigners. Indian citizens and visitors from SAARC and BIMSTEC countries need only to pay Rs5 per person in order to access the garden. Meanwhile, foreign adults must pay Rs200 per person. Children aged up to 15 years old can enter free of charge.
The best time to visit Agra is during the months of November to March. During these months, the weather is cold and temperature hovers between 1C to 30C. Make sure to come prepared with warm clothes.
Charles is a world traveler having lived in 44 states and 11 countries and traveled to dozens more. He and his wife spend time between London, Ireland, Canada, and the Philippines.