City Monument – Mughal-Era Pavilion, Sunder Nursery
A secret spot.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The white walls are embossed with the likenesses of arches and flowers. The outermost skin of choona — the lime plaster on the walls — is peeling off in places, revealing an additional layer underneath. The rest is silent.
Suddenly a peacock somewhere nearby starts to scream aggressively.
The Mughal-era pavilion lies like a secret garden in the less frequented portion of the Sunder Nursery. This weekend afternoon, the sprawling park is as crowded and noisy as Nainital’s Mall Road on any summer weekend. There is no place here to be alone, in solitude. But this little spot is an exception, yet to be discovered by the babbling masses. The pavilion and the untrimmed greens of the surroundings are far from the park’s snack carts and popular lake-side lawns. In this moment, the miniature world here is immersed in soothing impassiveness. The quietude is occasionally disrupted by the trrr-trrr of invisible insects, and by the barking of dogs. Meanwhile, leaves are falling from the trees like a muted downpour.
The most striking element is the restrained architecture of the brick pavilion. As elegant and sparse as Hemingway’s prose, it has the austerity of a jungle camp. The aforementioned designs of flowers and arches on the walls are merely outlines. The sandstone screens on each of the three walls are a bit ostentatious, though. But their tiny star-shaped openings give away no secret. It is all dark in the chamber inside. The fourth wall has a teakwood door in place of the jaali. It is locked.
And now a party of humans arrive. They cheerily settle down with babies, mats and picnic baskets containing sandwiches and chips. The secret garden quickly fills up with the drone of their pandemic-era chatter (“This is my first outing, yaar!”, “I’ve started going to the office, but my cat is not taking it well”…)
You may as well be in M Block Market in GK-2.
Suddenly, that peacock screams again. The humans fall quiet. This time, another peacock, somewhere far away, replies with an equally impassioned scream. Both peacocks start to chat noisily with each other.
Far from the madding crowd