Sunder Nursery blooms into a park

Green Neighbourhood

Located in the heart of Delhi, the humble Sunder Nursery nearby Humayun’s Tomb often goes ignored. At one time, it was called the Azim Bagh - containing some of the native and rare plant species of the Capital. Soon, it was rechristened Sunder Nursery and the British used it to experiment with different plant species to put them on roadsides as well as Lutyen’s Delhi.

Today, the nursery may not be living that glory but it will soon be developed into a miniature ecological park displaying different micro-habitats. The Central Public Works Department (CPWD) and the Aga Khan Trust, a private historical conservation group are jointly developing Sunder Nursery to be one of the few such parks in the region.  
Sunder Nursery is no ordinary park. It houses at least nine tombs from the Mughal time and it is often called an archaeological park as well. The Aga Khan Trust plans to develop both the facets of the nursery.

Archana Saad Akhtar, a programme officer of the trust, says, “Spread over 28 hectares, the development of Sunder Nursery into a sustainable park is part of a larger socio-economic development programme that includes the urban regeneration of Nizamuddin Basti and restoration of Humayun’s Tomb complex (World Heritage Site).”

“Our work will aim at creating a significant arboretum, restore the monuments, create new attractions and provide visitor facilities. At the same time, plans are in place to link up the Nursery site with Humayun’s Tomb complex, creating a vast green space, a cultural heritage park, in the heart of the City,” she adds.

The new Sunder Nursery is planned to showcase four micro-habitat zones of Delhi’s original landscape – Kohi (ridge), Bangar (alluvial), Khadar (riverine) and Dabar (marsh). It will have a prominent ridge with lakes running around the nine heritage structures within the zone.

It will also include greenhouses, area for flower shows and visitor amenities such as cafes and an interpretation centre. By putting together all of this, the zone is expected to create a meaningful visitor experience and a space to offer opportunities for recreation, education and discovery.

This will include the creation of nine large mounds with large stone blocks. The mounds are now being planted with species originally found in the ridge. All plant saplings have already been procured and are ready for plantation this season, officials said.

Delhi already has 256 species of trees and the authorities are bringing in over 100 more species from regions like Eastern Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, parts of Haryana and the sub-Himalayan tracts. The planting style is being designed to evoke the Mughal charbagh.

Archana says, “Sunder Nursery will become a world-class nursery with significant educational, cultural and ecological facilities. With over 300 tree varieties, several thousand plant varieties, a bonsai collection, greenhouses and visitor facilities, we are hoping this will be a nature lover’s dream destination.”

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