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This beautiful garden is located on the western banks of River Yamuna and stands in perfect alignment with the gardens of the Taj Mahal located across the river. Spread across 300 sq m, Mehtab Bagh has been the site of several intriguing excavations. Local lore holds that it was the last in a series of 11 pleasure gardens built by Mughal emperor Babur by the riverbank. Today, it stands as a delightful vantage point from where to view and photograph the marble wonder that is Taj. The view from the entrance gate is particularly beautiful and should not be missed.
Legend goes that while emperor Babur built it, Shah Jahan identified it as the perfect spot from where to behold the Taj Mahal and gave it its name, intending for it to be a moonlit pleasure garden. Walkways, fountains, pavilions and pools were created to embellish it, and fruit trees were planted aplenty. The design is then believed to have been approached almost as though Mehtab Bagh were meant to be a part of the Taj Mahal complex, like a riverfront terrace. The myth around Shah Jahan’s plan to build a ‘black Taj Mahal’ also starts in this expanse. Mehtab Bagh is believed to be the site where he had planned to build a black marble mausoleum for himself, a veritable twin to the Taj Mahal – in exact alignment to his wife’s fabled mausoleum – until his ambitions were thwarted by his son, Aurangzeb, who imprisoned him till his death. The several excavations that have taken place here over the years have unearthed various structures such as a large octagonal tank with 25 fountains, a pond and a charbagh. Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb is, in fact, said to have been found halfway between the main entrance of the Taj Mahal complex and the end of Mehtab Bagh. The renovation of the park was meticulously carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Landscape artists from ASI worked out the replanting of trees, herbs and plants to match the original garden, replicating riverside gardens such as Shalimar Bagh in Kashmir. Around 80 plants identified with Mughal horticulture were planted such as guava, hibiscus, neem, jamun and ashoka. Today, Mehtab Bagh stands pristine in its grandeur, restored to its rightful glory.
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