My second day in Delhi was dedicated to seeing some of New Delhi’s many monuments. Our first stop Sunder Nursery.
Sunder Nursey is a 90 acre Heritage Park adjacent to Humayun’s Tomb; it’s monuments were built in the 16th Century by the Moghuls. From the early 1900’s it was used as a nursery, a place to grow (and test) different species of trees, and the buildings on the site were left in a state of disrepair.
In 2007 a memorandum was signed for the redevelopment and restoration of the property and it opened as a Heritage Park in February of 2018. There is still work being done on some of the buildings, but the property itself is beautiful.
Little is known about the monuments and who they were built for. They do know that the Mughal Grand Trunk Road ran through the property, and the central vista leading up to Sundar Burj sits where that road once ran.
Lining the central vista are beautiful flowering trees, the powder-puff tree being one of them.
Looking through the doors of the Sunder Burj to the pond created beyond.
The elaborate dome ceiling, which had suffered heavy damage due to leakage and “repairs” using cement and whitewash, has been beautifully restored. They needed to gently scrape off the previous repairs, clean the historic plasterwork and then, specially trained craftsmen restored the missing portions.
You can see the Quranic inscriptions around the middle of the interior that have also been painstakingly restored.
This pond was created as part of the redevelopment and sits where the road once did; sadly the fountains were off that morning. The park is used by locals as a place of rest and relaxation, I was the only tourist there.
The arched platform at Sunder Nursery is all that remains of a 16th century Mosque.
The restoration of the Sundarwala Mahal, a 16th century mausoleum, was completed in 2015. The building contains and underground crypt that is surrounded by 8 chambers; above ground is empty space.
Beautiful purple flowers in the 30 acre bio-diversity zone.
The walkways are lined with trees and benches to create a peaceful and relaxing environment.
The monuments at Sunder were all built by the Mughals using rubble which was then plastered over. This is the Lakkarwala Burj. Like the Sunder Burj, they don’t know whose tomb this originally was. Restoration work started here in 2011 and they are still putting some finishing touches on it.
The interior of Lakkarwala Burj is brighter and more colourful than Sunder, again with a beautiful painting on the domed ceiling.
Within the Sunder Nursery lies the 11 acre Batashewala Complex which is home to 3 tombs. The first, Mirza Muzaffar Hussain’s Tomb (known as the Bada Batashewala Mahal) was built in 1603 and is the most significant of the three. It’s occupant was the grand-nephew of Emperor Humayun and the son-in-law of Emperor Akbar.
The second is the Chota Batashewala Mahal. The front facade has been restored but the remainder is a pile of rubble.
The buildings are being restored using the same methods and materials as their original construction. This sign explains the operation of the lime cycle.
Just across the road from the Nursery is the Humayun’s tomb complex, a Unesco world heritage site.
The first monument you see when entering the complex is Isa Khan’s tomb. This octagonal tomb was built in 1547-48 to house the remains of Isa Khan, a noble man. This excerpt from the sign tells the story…
The tomb building has been beautifully restored, with the blue tiles on the eight small domes sparkling in the sun.
It is said to be the only surviving complex of it’s type with walls, mosque and gateway intact.
The complex also houses a Mosque which was built in 1547.
Built as a place for Arab traders and craftsmen to stay, the walls of the Arab ki Sarai still stand but the domed roof has long since collapsed.
In royal courts, the barber was often the most trusted confidant of the Emporer; after all, he did hold a straight razor to the his throat. No one is exactly sure why, but Humayun’s barber has his own tomb. It’s located in the southern corner of the grounds on a diagonal from Humayun’s.
The male tomb is marked by the raised piece on the top while the female one (presumably his wife) has a flat strip in the same place. There is also a noticeable difference in their sizes.
Humayun was the second emporer of the Mughal empire. He died in 1556 and a few years later his tomb was built. It’s considered by many to be the precursor to the Taj Mahal and was the first Persian garden style tomb in India. It was built at the exorbitant cost of 1.5 million rupees in 1572 (about $22,000 USD) and is surrounded by 30 acres of gardens!
The domed ceiling of the central chamber which houses only Humayun’s tomb.
Built with sandstone and marble it’s an impressive sight…
The building is often referred to as the “dormatory of the Mughals”. Many of his descendants are also buried in the crypts below – the site’s pamplet puts that number at over a hundred, while the Unesco page puts it at over 150. These 2 tombs housed in another chamber are female, possibly two of his wives?
After Humayun’s tomb it was time for a bit of a change of pace so we set off for the Dilli Haat market. This market rents the stalls (for a mere 100 rupees – about $1.50 US) to the craft vendors, who need to be registered craftsmen, for 15 days at a time. The 62 stalls are allotted on a rotational basis.
Unfortunately most of the vendors were just selling fabric and saris, but there were these cute fabric elephants.
In the centre of New Delhi sits India Gate which is similar in appearance to Paris’ Arc de Triumphe. It commemorates the 70,000 Indian soldiers who perished fighting for the British in WWI and is inscribed on the inside with the names of 13,218 war dead. Unfortunately, for security reasons you can’t really get close enough to read the names.
As you can see, it’s a very busy spot, although most of the people were Indian, not foreign tourists.
A close up of the inscription at the top…
Directly behind India Gate is a canopy that was built in 1932 to cover a statue of King George V. In 1968 the statue was removed and the canopy remains empty to this day.
Amar Jawan Jyoti, the flame of the unknown soldier, was erected under India Gate in 1971 to commemorate soldiers killed during the Indo-Pakistani War. Each of the flames in the four urns burns continuously and the monument is manned 24/7 by soldiers from the 3 branches of the Indian military.