A walk through one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites: Delhi's Sunder Nursery

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 13, 2020, 01.09 PM(IST) Mar 13, 2020, 01.14 PM(IST) Edited By: Sonal Gera

Sunder Nursery in Delhi (Source: The Aga Khan Trust) Photograph:( Twitter )

Story highlights

A 16th-century heritage park complex adjacent to the Humayun's Tomb, the Sunder Nursery was opened for the general public after a decade of restoration work by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture almost two years ago. The UNESCO, however, had declared the Nursery a world heritage site in 2016 -- even before it could be fully renovated.

To step into the historic Sunder Nursery in Delhi at this time of the year is to be greeted by the summer breeze, sounds of birds -- especially peacocks, and a lot of greenery. It took the Delhites a decade to have a detailed know of this legendary park situated at the heart of city; but it was worth the wait.

A 16th-century heritage park complex adjacent to the Humayun's Tomb, the Sunder Nursery was opened for the general public after a decade of restoration work by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture almost two years ago. The UNESCO, however, had declared the Nursery a world heritage site in 2016 -- even before it could be fully renovated.

Since February 2018, a lot of factors in and around this area have shown remarkable improvement.

The newly restored portions are pristine. The water table has shown a significant rise owing to rainwater harvesting and water conservation efforts. All the rainwater that gets collected is either taken to the lake or to the ampitheatre -- which alone can collect up to 6-7 lakh litres of water after a rainfall.

The water collected at the amphitheatre trickles down to the well. The well-maintained levels of underground water have also given rise to a lot of flora in the nursery.

Currently, the main zone of the nursery features 15 historical monuments -- in Central Asian style -- including the seven wells. It is also housed by about 300 tree species -- as Delhi’s first arboretum -- and is visited by about 80 bird species.

Sunder Nursery in Delhi (Source: The Aga Khan Trust)

(Source: The Aga Khan Trust for Culture)

The Aga Khan Trust for Culture had signed a memorandum to redevelop Sunder Nursery in collaboration with Delhi's Central Public Works Department, the Archaeological Survey of India and the South Delhi Municipal Corporation in 2007. After a decade of work and patience, the 90-acre Sunder Nursery is now dotted with historical monuments, two amphitheatres, 280 tree species, 36 butterfly species, and a bonsai enclosure among other features.

Flanked on one side by the magnificent Humayun’s Tomb, and the Purana Qila on the other, the nursery could not have existed at all. There was a proposal to build a road right through Sunder Nursery to connect NH 24 to Lodhi Road to facilitate better access to the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium -- in view of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. It was later dropped due to protests by environmentalists.

Sunder Nursery has also been picked out by the TIME Magazine as one of World's Best Places.

But -- fortunately or unfortunately -- most visitors and tourists do not even know a place like this even exists. Fortunately, because it is still left untouched by land pollution. And unfortunately, because a UNESCO World Heritage Site needs to be visited more, and marketed even more.

Nevertheless, the touristy space serves as a great weekend getaway. And the best part is it doesn't even burn a hole in your pocket.

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