Discovering new facets of the city one has lived in for years is a fascinating experience. Till sometime ago, Sunder Nursery was the place recommended to buy plants and gardening stuff at reasonable rates being a government run nursery. I never went there because the patch of green around my house was small and did not need shopping from a nursery! And it was never on my go to list for Delhi. Living in this sprawling megapolis for the last many years, there were many go to places, which as all residents of cities experience, there was simply no time!
)n a recent longish weekend, we newly empty nested, decided to visit the UNESCO World heritage site Humanyun’s Tomb. We had been reading and hearing of its beautiful redevelopment for long. A short drive from our house, we reached the area, found parking easily and walked towards the site. All along our small walk there were enticing huge posters about Sunder Nursery, now being called Delhi’s Heritage Park. It was bang opposite Humanyun’s tomb and we decided that we will visit it next time. Inside Humayun’s tomb the queue was serpentine and winded its way till god knows where. After hanging around a bit we decided that it was the turn of Sunder Nursery.
We crossed the road, paid Rs35/- per head (Rs100/- for foreigners) and entered. The nursery opens from 6.30 am to 6.30 pm, so we had nearly two hours to go. I was sure we would be out much sooner. What can a nursery offer other than plants, flowers and trees!
How to describe a garden that is laid out in Mughal style, has an amphitheater, has trees that look centuries old with rope swings, has monuments that make it a necropolis, fountains and water bodies, peacocks and the ubiquitous stray dogs! Sunder Nursery is all that and much more.
It is like walking holding the hands of history while the flowers, green lawns and guards blowing their whistles keep you rooted in the present. It is serene, enchanting and offers a different view which ever direction one walks.
Want a break in the heart of Delhi to simply relax, away from the sounds of traffic and bustle, explore beautifully restored Mughal era monuments and drink in the bio diversity then go for a walk to Sunder Nursery.
Flanked on the side by Humayun’s Tomb, The Delhi Zoo and the walls of the Purana Qila, it is simply an awesome experience.
Originally known as Azim Bagh and built by the Mughals in the 16th century, it lies on the Mughal-era Grand Trunk Road, and is spread over 90 acres (36 hectare). It was originally established in 1913 by the British when the Imperial Delhi complex was being planned and constructed. It was used as a place for propagating trees and other plants to be used in the new capital city, and also for testing species brought from other parts of India and from overseas, to pick those which successfully thrive in Delhi’s harsh climate.
Still a work in progress, the Central Public Works Department, in collaboration with the Archaeological Survey of India and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, is developing the 70 acre Sunder Nursery into a world class urban park with a distinct micro-habitat zone housing Delhi’s ecological diversity that surrounds restored monuments. It is an effort to protect and show-case Delhi’s fast disappearing natural habitats.
Further details of the monuments, trees, gardens, water bodies, facilities etc can be found on the site http://www.sundernursery.org/
Whenever one strolls through a maze of beauty, one can always identify some spot that is the most enchanting. For me in Sunder Nursery it was the enclosed compound which houses three of six world heritage monuments. The ruins of Chhota Bateshewala Mahal mesmerized. Ruins talk, they echo whispers of eras and humanity gone by. With the silence of the trees around, and nearly ten peacocks frolicking around, it was the one spot that I can return to again and again.
Sunder Nursery, I will be coming again! Soon.
Photos courtesy Dnyaneshwar M Mulay