The Garden Guide

Book: C.M Villiers Stuart Gardens of the Great Mughals
Chapter: Chapter 5 Gardens of the Plains - Delhi

Mahtab Bagh in Red Fort

Previous - Next

Within the palace walls there were also two larger gardens, called respectively the Life-giving Garden, and the Mahtab Bagh or Moon Garden. Looking at an old plan of the place, before its partial destruction in 1857, showing the positions and names of these two gardens, one cannot but be struck afresh with the practical and imaginative beauty of Indian garden-craft. These gardens formed two separate enclosures treated in one design: the first was a square of about five hundred feet, the second garden-court was the same length and about three hundred and fifty feet across. The larger of the two was laid out more particularly as a water garden. The centre was occupied by a big bathing tank with a baradari surrounded by fountains in its midst. Four canals radiated from this reservoir, two of them being filled at their far ends by streams running in through two charming little marble water pavilions. These buildings still exist, and were called the Bhadon and the Sawan, from the fact that their sheets of water falling over recesses for lights suggested the showers and lightning of the rainy season. Along the terrace walk on the ramparts ran a water parterre with a fountain in each of its little beds; this finished on the north side in another larger building called the Shah Burj. Here there is a lovely fountain basin and a deeply-carved white marble water-chute. One must have passed a long hot summer in the Indian plains to realise the full delight of this well-named garden-the joy of the life-giving dewy mornings, of the vivid transparency of the fresh opening flowers, and of the swim in the fountain-sprinkled pool; or the vast relief of the one cool hour before the daylight dies, when the grey haze steals over the fields below the river terrace, where the fountains play and the creamy marble glows suffused with magic life. This was the Daylight Garden; while beyond, seen through its central gateway, lay the Moonlight Court-dark trees, and a white night garden full of perfumes.