After years of neglect, Agra’s Mughal gardens are back in bloom. Flowering gardens that were reduced to lawns have now been restored to their former glory. For years, they were forgotten—the water channels had dried up and some of the pavilions destroyed. Now, after four years of painstaking conservation, two of the 44 Mughal gardens along the Yamuna waterfront have been restored and are now blooming with fragrant plants like jasmine, hibiscus and cedar. In 2014, the World Monument Fund (WMF) and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), embarked on a project to revive the gardens. The Charbagh style has been restored, the water features reactivated, and the overall visitor experienced improved with a slew of facilities.
The original gardens were built between the 16th and 17th Century by a succession of Mughal emperors from Babur to Shah Jehan. The garden of the tomb of I’timad-ud-Daulah is a classic tomb garden with stone-edged flower beds on the lawns. The Mehtab Bagh (“the “Moonlight Garden”) is right across the Yamuna river, with the glorious Taj Mahal as a backdrop. They were designed in a Charbagh style—they were divided into four equal quadrants with water features separating them. Over the years, this classic Mughal architectural feature was destroyed when many of the gardens were turned into lawns. They were once fed by the cool, clear Himalayan waters of the Yamuna. As the river got depleted and contaminated, it took a toll on the gardens. Courtesy – CNT & World Monument Fund