City Hangout – Government Sunder Nursery, Mathura Road
The magical greenhouse.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
From October to March, it is a country of roses, tulips, poppies and dahlias – all available at bargain basement prices. Government Sunder Nursery – Sunder means ‘beautiful’ in Hindi – is India’s largest state-owned nursery.
The rest of the year the plant sales outlet is less showy, but it still greets the eye with shades of green and lavender. Hundreds of different kinds of plants are grown here. The Delhi Walla asks you to come here to savour the open space and its serene ambiance, and to watch crows perched on display boards. You could walk for about half a mile along the length of the nursery until you reach the walls of the zoo.
Spread across 70 acres and situated adjacent to Humayun’s Tomb, Sunder Nursery was formerly known as Azim Bagh and was known to have graves of Sufi ascetics. Now it is left with nine Mughal-era tombs.
The garden traces its history to the Colonial-era in 1929 when the British established it to experiment with the trees proposed to be grown in their new capital in Delhi.
In his book The Splendour of Lodi Road: My Brush with Heritage, author Ravi Batra writes, “It (Sunder Nursery) was laid out by Mr Sydney Parcy Lancaster, who, overtime, planted 1500 trees and laid 150 miles of hedges all over Delhi.”
Acquired by the Central Public Works Department during the 1940s, the nursery has become home to more than 140 species of trees.
Not many people visit it – the crowd goes to Humayun’s Tomb, across the road. So, the garden, a landscape of potted plants, flowers, shrubs, and trees, remains quiet throughout the day. The silence is punctuated by bird songs, and occasionally by the laughter of gardeners and their families.
In the evening, these gardeners submit their equipments to be stored in tin-roofed sheds. They then take out their cycles and return to their homes.
It is a marvel that such a calming place is allowed to exist in our noisy city.
Where Near Humayun’s Tomb Time 9 am to 5 pm Nearest Metro Station Jangpura
Our green garden