One extremely sultry Sunday morning, I visited the Sundar Nagar Nursery. It reopened to the public in February 2018 after a restoration project by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), in partnership with the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). What an absolute beauty!!!
It is a great example of what the citizens deserve when private and public partnerships work together towards a creative endeavour. There must have been lots of challenges but when you visit it, you start marvelling at the amount of work that has gone in this vast 90 acre green space.
What strikes most is how clean and well maintained this public garden is. The staff are so warm and caring. The ticket counter salesman was so happy that I could give him change! Who really does that anymore?
The first monument you see is the beautiful 16th century Sunder Burj. It has delicately carved interiors abound with calligraphic panels. They give you the feeling of standing under a starlit sky, soaked in it – similar to having a hand block printed Ajrakh textile draped over your head.
You then walk ahead, through what was the Azim Bagh in Mughal era and converted to a nursery by the British in the 20th century. Today, the garden is resplendent with flora of multiple hues and fragrances.
Just ahead, you find the Lakarwala Burj on your left, eclipsed behind a fountain.
This monument also has carved panels but there are traces of painting in its dome and on its exterior. I don’t know what the colour references would have been for the conservators and restorers but I do appreciate the present choice of colours. The green of the garden stands out against the earthy colours of the structure.
I do wish that there was more information on what is written in the calligraphy so I look forward to its details, if ever published somewhere.
I love ruins. ‘Khandahar’ as they’re poetically called in Hindi. I just love these broken structures, strewn all around. I imagine each stone has a story to tell. I sometimes imagine these stories also 🙂 Have you ever done that?
There are 6 other structures in the immense complex, including an arched pavilion. It appeared to me to have several romantic legends from the past intertwined in the fold of its vines and petals.
Extremely well designed way finding and signage system, accessible pathways, ramps, ample comfortable seating has made traversing through the garden a treat. Don’t worry, it is not going to get damaged that soon – it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site 🙂
Though I had spent only an hour there, I wish I could have lived there. If you are a Delhite, then please spend all your cool days there. You are bound to forget all pollution. If you are a tourist, then do not hesitate to add this place to your travel itinerary.
If you are someone who likes peace and quiet for reading, writing or sketching then this is a must visit 🙂
All photos by the author