Better known for its wide range of exotic flowers and trees, the 70-acre Sundar Nursery in Nizamuddin area is also home to nine neglected Mughal period monuments, dwarfed and defaced by heavy vegetation over the years. But, now efforts are on to make the nursery popular for its monuments too.
As part of an elaborate project to restore the historical significance of Nizamuddin area, structures within Sundar Nursery have also been identified for conservation and work has already started.
ASI director-general Anshu Vaish told Times City: ‘‘The conservation work on the monuments is a part of the MoU signed with Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) for the Nizamuddin project. We are looking to upgrade the nursery and all the historical structures in it.”
The nursery’s location between Humayun’s Tomb complex and Delhi Zoo, and its proximity to Nizamuddin provides the conservationists an opportunity to create a larger area development project touching the Tomb, a world heritage site, said an expert. These monuments are very critical as they fall in the buffer-zone of the world heritage site.
‘‘They all provide an insight into the Mughal dynasty and as such their significance cannot be ignored,” said a conservationist.
The project will be undertaken by AKTC, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Central Public Works Department (CPWD), which owns and maintains the nursery. All the structures are from the early Mughal era dating to around 16-17th century. ‘‘The monuments would have originally been laid out in a garden setting but no trace of these historic gardens now survives and little is known except that these were enclosed within garden walls. There are legends that the entry to Sundarwala Mahal, one of the protected monuments, was ‘through a lofty gateway’,” said a historian.
Sundarwala Burj and Lakkarwala Burj, besides Sundarwala Mahal, have been declared monuments of national importance by the ASI. However, other structures, including ancient wells, a Mughal pavillion, a mosque and several graveyards, on the premises require urgent attention.
Admitting that conserving unprotected architectural heritage is important, officials said the project would accord priority to such buildings. According to officials from AKTC, the conservation work aims at increasing the cultural significance of buildings and also their setting.
The park will also be sensitively landscaped, capitalising on the large volume of existing flora. Several additional attractions are planned, both to enhance nursery functions and develop the area into a major attraction site for Delhi’s citizens and visitors to the city. ‘‘With its unique living heritage components, it can be a good site for field study in different subjects like history, religion, geology, botany, civics, architecture, archaeology, environment and other disciplines. A major interpretation centre located close to the entry of the nursery is also planned,” said an official.