The width and alignment of the garden, extrapolated from the structural remnants discovered, match the layout of the Taj Mahal, and so it is now thought that the Mehtab Bagh was a part of the monument’s overall design. Scholars think that Shah Jahan created the garden to be a pleasant viewing point for the Taj, particularly at night under the moon, when its white marble facade is especially luminous. The perfectly placed octagonal pool would have made for a dramatic reflection.
Unfortunately, the garden, set in a low-lying area at a bend in the river, succumbed to flooding. In a letter to his father Shah Jahan in December 1652, a hopeful Aurangzeb reports damages to the Mehtab Bagh: “The Mahtab Garden was completely inundated, and therefore it has lost its charm, but soon it will regain its verdancy. The octagonal pool and the pavilion around it are in splendid condition. It is surprising to hear that the waters of the Jumna have overflowed their banks because at present the river is moving back to its old course and is about to regain it.”
Today, visitors to the site can walk through a restored botanical garden, where groups have cultivated plants that might have originally grown there.