In 2007, a memorandum to redevelop Sunder Nursery was signed by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, a global Ismaili institution, with Delhi’s Central Public Works Department, the Archaeological Survey of India and the South Delhi Municipal Corporation.
A decade of work has resulted in a 90-acre park dotted with historical monuments, 280 tree species, 36 butterfly species, two amphitheatres, a bonsai enclosure, a peafowl zone and plenty more. Unlike Coronation Park, Sunder Nursery sits on the edge of the posh New Delhi, where green spaces tend to get more funds and attention. The magnificent Humayun’s Tomb, a 16th century precursor to the Taj Mahal, sits adjacent to the nursery, while its western boundary abuts another green space called Millennium Park. To its north is a medieval sarai, a kind of inn for travellers, that is now part of the Delhi zoo, and just past that is the Purana Qila, a large fort that in its current form was built by Sher Shah Suri in the 16th century but might actually have been a much older site.
Put together, these parks form a large, green, somewhat open historical zone that the Aga Khan Trust says would measure over 600 acres and might allow Delhi to have its own Central Park. Like that large space in New York, Sunder Nursery will be run by a Management Trust that is effectively a public-private partnership between the various Delhi authorities and the Aga Khan Trust.
“Liberalisation in the 1990s in India saw the private sector come into almost everything else,” said Ratish Nanda, a conservation architect who heads the Aga Khan Trust’s operations in India. “With this park, the first public-private partnership on something like this, we hope to show that there is a template for the private sector to be involved in India’s heritage too.”