Sundar Nursery’s Central Axis with the 16th century Sundar Burj in the backdrop, New Delhi, India.
Sunder Nursery is bestowed with the first arboretum (botanical garden of trees), a bonsai house, and is home to 80 species of birds, 36 butterfly species and 280 native trees. Delhiites now have a new heritage park that is as good as the popular Lodhi Garden. The nursery came up during the British rule and in 1950 a renowned botanist whose name is unknown gifted a bonsai collection to the nursery.
A walk through the massive heritage garden — dotted with flower beds, raised sandstone pathways and marble fountains — takes one to the six monuments that were given World Heritage designation by UNESCO in 2016
The Lakkarwala Burj, Sunder Burj, Sunderwala Mahal, Mirza Muzaffar Hussain’s Tomb, Chitra Batashewala and an unknown Mughal Tomb fall under this category. Although, little is know about who built them.
Designed by landscape architect Late M Shaheer, Sunder Nursery has a 550m ornamental central vista that starts from the entrance zone of Humayun’s Tomb. An official said the landscape master plan derived inspiration from “traditional Indian concept of congruency between nature, garden and utility coupled with environmental conservation” for a truly urban scale work.
The gardens along the central vista, inspired by Mughal traditions, have lotus-shaped marble fountains. Water flows through geometric flowerbeds and raised sandstone pathways. A lake on the northern edge of the central vista will have walkways, seats and pavilions along the edges. An amphitheatre has also been built for cultural events. The lake would collect rainwater and also serve as a reservoir for emergency use.
Officials said the nursery has over 300 tree species, some not found elsewhere in Delhi. Over 80 bird species have also been recorded. As an added attraction for children, an educational resource on Delhi’s ecology has also been set up for the 5,00,000 schoolchildren who visit the adjoining Humayun’s Tomb annually. This 20-acre micro-habitat zone showcases plants of the Ridge, and the riverine, marshy landscapes that were once found in Delhi.
The heritage aspect is striking too. There are 15 Mughal monuments within the nursery, some under ASI and some unprotected. These have been conserved by AKTC over the years. In 2016, Unesco extended the world heritage designation to 12 monuments.