Sunder Nursery - New Delhi’s Manicured Urban Oasis

Sunder Nursery in New Delhi is the city’s finest heritage park, sprawled over 90 acres of landscaped gardens behind Humayun’s Tomb Complex. Being a combination of natural splendour, history, thriving flora and fauna, Sunder Nursery is an oasis in south Central Delhi. In contrast to its rivals like Nehru and Lodhi Parks, what makes this nursery unique is its historical importance since Imperial Mughal rule. Renovated and rescued recently, the park has become a hub for those looking to step out of their homes, go for occasional celeb spotting, spend time with friends in open air and simply enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

Inside Sunder Nursery

Azimganj Serai, Sunder Nursery
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With over 300 species of trees, 80 types of birds, 40 butterfly species and several 100-year-old bonsai plants, Sunder Nursery is Delhi’s first ever arboretum. Spread across 20 acres of nursery beds are 54 varieties of flowers, including beautiful native and exotic species. Not only is it home to verdant flora and fauna, but the park also houses 6 monuments declared as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Post renovations in 2007, it was opened to the public in 2018 and is a coveted tourist destination in Delhi.

Restoration of Sunder Nursery

Restoration of Mughal Garden Pavilion
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Sunder Nursery was originally used to grow imported, experimental plants on a small scale ever since it was established in 1913 during the British rule in India. Today, the park is a hot topic among every locale and socialite in Delhi and has been listed among the 100 most amazing places in the world.

Formerly known as Azim Bagh or Bagh-e-Azeem (the Great Garden), Sunder Nursery’s roots date back to the 16th century. The park is sandwiched between Humayun tomb complex on the south and Purana Qila to the north, two of the most significant architectural marvels in New Delhi. The word Sunder means “beautiful” and the nursery gets its name from the Sunder Burj tomb on premises and other spectacular monuments that still stand proudly as an icon of Mughla grandeur in India. The stellar arboretum is home to fifteen heritage monuments protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. 6 UNESCO World Heritage monuments within the park are: -
  • Sunder Burj
  • Sunderwala Mahal
  • Lakkar Wala Burj
  • Mirza Muazzafar Hussain's Tomb
  • Chotta Bateshewala
  • Mughal Pavilion
Lakkar Wala Burj at Sunder Nursery
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After years of intense restructuring to make way through ancient trees and gnarly roots, these priceless tombs and gumbads have been adorned with picturesque settings. Now the Lakkar Wala Burj tomb sits in the new rose garden with its sun-exposed dome, while the original white lime mortar and orange sandstone architecture of the 16th century SunderWala Mahal has been retained. The red sandstone walls on the inside of SunderWala Mahal had thousands of Quranic verses carved into them, all of which have been recreated.

Address and Timings for Sunder Nursery

Amphitheatre at Sunder Nursery
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Sunder Nursery lies on the Grand Trunk Road built during the Mughal empire in New Delhi. Here is a bite-sized list of information about the park: -

Address: Nizamuddin, Nizamuddin West, New Delhi
Timings: Open 24 hours
Tickets: INR 40 for adults, INR 20 for kids (5-13 years), Free for kids below 5 years
Designers: Professor Mohammed Shaheer, Aga Khan Trust for Culture
Owner: Government of India
Area: 90 acres (36 hectares)
Amenities:
  • Cafe and bistro
  • On site restrooms
  • Drinking Water
  • Amphitheatre
  • Interpretation centre
  • Docent-led tours

Sunder Nursery’s Biodiversity Zone

Man-made Lake at Sunder Nursery
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While 20 acres of the park is utilized for developing nursery beds, another 30 have been dedicated to create a biological diversity zone. Sunder Nursery is a collection of 4 distinct micro-habitat zones with sections showcasing Delhi’s heritage monuments and ecological wealth. These zones replicate Delhi’s original terrain - Kohi (ridge), Bangar (alluvial soil), Khadar (riverine) and Dabar (marshland).

Flora and Fauna at Sunder Nursery

Sunder Nursery - Canna Section
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Preserving disappearing natural landscapes, Sunder Nursery is a world class urban park that is a smorgasbord of 4,500 trees serving as a prime habitat for birds, bees and 54 varieties of flowers. The garden is divided into breathtaking heritage and eco trails. Walking through one of them, you would come across the only Pink Cedar in Delhi. Apart from native plants like shisham, amrood and chalta, some of the exotic species found in Sunder Nursery are badminton ball tree, tun, Brazilian ironwood, whistling pines and Colville’s glory.

Even though Sunder Nursery features lovingly nurtured beds of Sweet Alyssum, pansy and chrysanthemums, one of the most beautiful parts of the park is the new Rose Garden. You can find varieties of colourful roses like tata pink, black pearl and folklore among other species. It is common to see rare Asiatic bees flanking these beds in joy. Sunder Nursery is also the only place in the city where oriental magpies, Ultramarine Flycatchers, starlings, Black Drongo and tailorbirds fly free in their natural habitat. Indian silverbills and herons often bask in the sun while catching fish at the lake.

The Bonsai House at Sunder Nursery

Protected Bonsai House at Sunder Nursery
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In 1950, Mr V.P. Agnihotri, a lifelong lover and collector of miniatures, donated a bonsai house to Sunder Nursery. Some of the arboreal brethren here are a doddering 90 years old. You can also find plants labelled with names of contributors, some of who are British officials who imported exotic seeds to this park in the early 1900s. The Bonsai House is also home to 40 species of butterflies like blue and yellow pansy, Indian Palm Bob, peacock pansy and Banded Awl.

Fab Cafe at Sunder Nursery - Outdoor Lakeside Bistro

Fab café at Sunder Nursery
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Fabcafe by The Lake is a rustic Indian bistro nestled in the park with a picture-perfect alfresco setting and a gorgeous lakeside seating. After taking a tour of Sunder Nursery, visitors, journalists and those looking to work remotely gather for brunch and snacks at Fabcafe to enjoy alluring lake views. The highlights of their healthy and traditional Indian menu are Chicken Momos with jackfruit flour, Dal Makhani, six-grain parathas, chicken tikka, Ganna Juice and homemade Almond Milk.

Open Hours: 8am - 6pm, Monday - Sunday
Cost for Two: INR 1,200

Things to Do at Sunder Nursery

Sunder Nursery Gardens
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  1. Buy potted plants: From small saplings to full grown ornamental plants, Sunder Nursery sells a plethora of gorgeous flowering plants and seeds. The sales corner always meets the eye at the entrance with kaleidoscopic shades of green, lavender, yellow and red. You would be amazed by the sight of their collection of indoor, outdoor and air purifying plants. Roses, tulips, dahlias and poppies are all sold at bargain basement prices.
  2. Have a picnic: You can enjoy a leisurely getaway within the premises of Sunder Nursery. There are plenty of designated, shady lakeside spots where families love to spread a picnic, watch jolly koi fish play in the pond and take nature walks. Furry friends are also welcome to walk on leash.
  3. Photography: As one of New Delhi’s top green eco-zones, Sunder Nursery offers a diverse and aesthetic backdrop for your reels and photos. Apart from visitors and nature enthusiasts taking memorable snapshots home, you would come across wedding photoshoots and even movies being filmed.
  4. Weekend Market: Every Saturday and Sunday, The Earth Collective farmers market is pitched at Sunder Nursery with both permanent and new stalls. There are about 45 stalls in total at this organic market, selling local handmade apparel, home decor, snacks, fresh and vegetables and fruits. Artisan products, beverages, jams and preserves, terracotta cookware, handmade clothing and solar power products are some of the eco-friendly products available. If you want to grow plants at your home, do pick up Sunder Nursery’s organic vermicompost, fertilizers and pesticides. Timings: 9am - 2pm, Saturday - Sunday
  5. Historical excursions: Sunder Nursery is a top-notch destination for educational excursions about history. The well-maintained structures, Mughal monuments and murals at Sunder Nursery offer deep insights into Indian history. Most significantly, all the monuments in the park remain in their original conditions since they were built in Imperial Delhi.
  6. Biodiversity safaris: Sunder Nursery makes botany aficionados, ornithologists and animal lovers go gaga with its bountiful reserves of flora and fauna. You can spend an afternoon cataloging the plants, animals and birds you see or explore the library at the Interpretation Centre for details of the park.

Sunder Nursery - Delhi’s New Khan Market

Sunder Nursery - Mughal Pavilion
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Walking around the spectacularly manicured Sunder Nursery, replete with its sprawling gardens and weekend market, has become a favourite activity for citizens. Elites are calling Sunder Nursery “Delhi’s new Khan Market”. 

Prepare to explore the stunning landscape, verdant flora and fauna of Sunder Nursery on your quest to have a picnic, practice yoga or just take a brisk walk among Delhi’s green haven. Have you visited Sunder Nursery before or are planning to? Let us know about your experience, recommendations and queries in the comments below.

This post was published by Koushiki Kundu

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