Agra's Mehtab Bagh ("The Moon Garden") is the best place from which to get your first views of the incredible Taj Mahal. It was where our group got it's introduction to the Taj. We visited the Moon Garden late in the afternoon the day before we were to enter and visit the Taj Mahal complex proper.
Situated across the Yamuna River, the Moon Garden covers 25 acres north of the Taj. Shah Jehan built this garden in 1631-1635 A.D. as part of his grand monument for his beloved wife. The Garden was planned as a place to enjoy the beauty of Taj Mahal on a moonlit night, especially seeing it in the garden's reflecting pool. It's also believed that Shah Jehan often came to the Moon Garden to watch the construction progress of the Taj Mahal during the many years it was built. With the passing of decades and centuries, the structures in the garden were destroyed by people scavenging their stones for construction elsewhere, and the garden itself lay in ruins. Restoration began several years ago.
There are no parking facilities at the Moon Garden, so we had to park some distance up the road and walk there. It was an interesting walk through a relatively rural neighborhood.
As I recall, there is no admission fee to enter the garden or if there was a fee it was modest. The garden was nice but partially dug up and in the process of being restored when we visited. The reflecting pool especially seemed to be undergoing restoration.
The garden is popular with locals and many families were visiting.
The views of the Taj from the Moon Garden are partially obscured by the constant hazy air pollution of Agra, but are lovely nonetheless.
Besides the white marble of the main mausoleum of the Taj Mahal, it's also a good place to see the mosques on either side of it...
Some painted storks resting along the riverbank.
The garden remains open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. everyday. During the monsoon season it can be partially flooded.