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Explore: Photo Essay

By Christine Pemberton

India, and its capital city, New Delhi in particular, has just received the most wonderful present.
After generations of neglect, and years of work, the monuments dotting the otherwise quiet and low-key Sunder Nursery have been restored to their glory.
Inaugurated in late February 2018, these landscaped gardens provide a missing link in the history of both the city and also of landscaping and design.

Date Published: 11th April 2018.

Monument at Sunder Nursery

Welcome to Sunder Nursery, a 90 acre city park, with gardens and water bodies and lawns and, most excitingly, 15 historic monuments that are showcased to perfection.

The restoration of Sunder Nursery was driven by the Aga Khan Trust

The driving force behind the conservation and restoration of the ancient monuments was the Aga Khan Trust, and it has been a labour of love for a decade, to restore the structures, some of which were in poor condition.

The 16th Century Sunderwala Burj Tomb

The 16th-century Sunderwala Burj tomb is one of the first sights that greet you as you enter the nursery. The tomb has been restored as per the orange sandstone and white lime mortar used in its original design.

Inside Sunderwala Burj Tomb

Inside, the restoration is breathtaking, with delicate designs on the ceiling now restored to their former glory.

Detail of walls inside Sunderwala Burj Tomb

Inside the 16th century tomb, entire sections of white Quranic verses have been recreated. There is a peaceful elegance in this simple tomb, which was the first of the 15 monumnets to emerge from centuries of neglect.

Water features are a beloved and integral part of Mughal landscaping

Water features, such a beloved and integral part of Mughal landscaping, dot the 90 acre park. The grand central vista combines flowing water and geometric patterns, and is over 500 metres in length, following the path of the 16th century Grand Trunk Road.

Lakkarwala Burj is set amongst the rose beds

Set amongst rose beds, the 16th century Lakkarwala Burj, similar to the Sunder Burj, but on a slightly larger scale, and, of course, on a raised platform.

Sense of restfulness and harmony at Lakkarwala Burj - views inside and out

With malis (gardeners) pottering around tending the roses, and hose pipes trailing across the path, with vistas through the tomb’s doors to the nursery beyond, there is a sense of restfulness and harmony in this monument. Almost a touch of the Sleeping Beauty, awakened from years - centuries - of dusty neglect…

Trees and waterfeatures are a magnet for birds

The trees and the water features are already a magnet for birds, and as the park matures, one can only imagine that the bird life will multiply. There is a huge, avowed commitment to nature here. 20,000 saplings have been planted. There are already 80 bird species and 36 butterfly species recorded. Exciting times lie ahead for every city dweller who longs for a green space.

A tantalising glimpse of the walls of the 16th Century Azimgank Serai

A tantalizing glimpse of the walls of 16th century Azimganj Serai, which now lies within the adjacent Delhi Zoo. Even more tantalizingly, according to the team that has restored the nursery “it is hoped that eventually this 16th century serai will be accessible for visitors from Sunder Nursery”. It is the reconnecting of monuments that have been separated by time and bureaucracy that is so exciting in this development. History is coming together again.

Tucked away amongst shady trees lies this little gem, a small building after restoration

Tucked away amongst shady trees lies this little gem. Tiny, quiet, peaceful, elegant. And saved from demolition just a few years ago. Unbelievably there were plans to demolish it, in order to build a road extension for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Saved from destruction, it was not only restored but its own garden was created.

Ornate details inside a monument at Sunder Nursery

Restoring, renovating and reconnecting history, re-energising nature, creating an oasis of greenery in a busy city - the Sunder Nursery is a delight. And the work is not finished. There are more monuments to be restored. There are biodiversity habitats to be nurtured – a staggering 30 acres have been set aside to grow naturally. And, excitingly, there is a Garden Amphitheatre, designed to provide a platform for musicians. So in the place where the 14th century Qawwali musical traditions started, things have come full circle.


 

 

 

 

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