City Nature – Corona Sky, Sunder Nursery
The pandemic-era paradise.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The best way of experiencing Delhi’s extraordinarily brilliant pandemic-era clear blue sky is by heading to Sunder Nursery, just across the road from Humayun Tomb. This time, refuse to be seduced by the getaway’s flowers and monuments. The garden has a secret hidden in broad daylight—it offers a most unobtrusive view of the Delhi sky.
During beautiful clean air days such as these, the sky in Sunder remains a sprawling carpet of clear blue. Masses of frothy while clouds do gather up occasionally, but they only add to the character. The sky then looks like your drawing room floor, after the dog has torn up the sofa cushions, scattering the cotton stuffing all over the place.
A Lodhi Garden loyalist may argue that a similar view is to be found in her beloved park. But in Lodhi the perspectives of the sky is intruded — most beautifully, admittedly — by much bigger monuments than those in Sunder. Lodhi’s stately trees, too, rush to claim the sky as their own. Gigantic trees also stand in Sunder Nursery, but here their arrangement is almost geometrical, leaving out vast open spaces for you to cherish the sky in all its infinite majesty. In some spots, depending upon the light, the sky gets so overwhelming that you feel it might fall down on the grass at any moment.
Among many distractions, the garden has two long rows of frangipani trees. Each of these trees is topped with dozens of white flowers, like a planet with many moons. From certain angles, the sky appears so close to the top of these trees that you feel as if it were resting upon their fragrant frailty.
Equally enchanting is a narrow tree-lined track that cuts through a slopey lawn, and upon which the sky hovers like a narrow stream of paradise.
In the evening, the setting sun tries to grab the attention but the garden’s sky has such a commanding presence that the sun is forced to stay in the background.
If only Sunder Nursery could stay open till late at night, then one could use it as an open-air planetarium to watch the stars that seem to have recently popped up over Delhi. In such a dreamy night, we could lie flat upon the dewy grass, with learned friends pointing out all the Ursa Majors and Ursa Minors, the constellations that lit up our heavens. While the ever-inconstant moon would quietly become the new background prop.