New Delhi –
Sunder Nursery, a new 90-acre (36 hectare) city park in
New Delhi, was officially inaugurated today by Shri M. Venkaiah
Naidu, Vice President of India, and His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th
hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and founder and Chairman
of the Aga Khan Development Network.
Speaking at the ceremony, Vice
President Shri Venkaiah Naidu expressed appreciation for the
contributions made by the institutions of the Aga Khan
Development Network (AKDN), under His Highness’ leadership.
Calling it “an important day for the
historic city of Delhi,” the Vice President said the Sunder
Nursery project was a model of public private partnership,
ombining the elements of “Nature, culture and the future” as
a “great addition to the capital.”
The inauguration ceremony on the
grounds of Sunder Nursery was attended by senior government
officials, ambassadors and foreign diplomats, as well as
leaders of civil society organizations and residents from
the surrounding neighbourhood.
“These projects were designed to
honour the past - while also serving the future,” said
the Aga Khan addressing the gathering.
“And it is with the future in mind
that we now dedicate the Sunder Nursery as one of the
world’s great public parks - open to all for recreation,
for contemplation, for education, and for inspiration.”
New Delhi –
The Honourable Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah
Naidu and His Highness the Aga Khan unveil the plaque
marking the inauguration of the Sunder Nursery, the newly
created 90-acre Park in New Delhi.
The Sunder Nursery project, the Aga
Khan added, was an example of the importance of open, green spaces
as part of a healthy urban landscape, with aesthetic, recreational
and economic potential, as a catalyst for tourism, science,
education, sustainable community development and sport.
Once used as a nursery by the British,
the Sunder Nursery has been transformed over the last decade into a
city park for the people of Delhi by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture
(AKTC), in collaboration with the Ministry of Housing and Urban
Affairs, Central Public Works Department, the Archaeological Survey
of India, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation and the U.S.
Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation. Landscape works at
Sunder Nursery have been supported by the Norwegian Agency for
The Sunder Nursey Project has been
part of a highly-effective public private partnership, that has
demonstrated the highest standards of heritage conservation and
urban revitalisation of historic spaces, making some of India’s most
valuable cultural assets accessible, upgrading the urban fabric and
improving economic opportunity for disadvantaged communities in
Learnings from this endeavour, assets
such as this one, are already informing other projects at important
historic sites in India and around the world.
Over 400 truckloads of construction
rubble were removed and 20,000 saplings planted. 15 monuments have
been conserved by the AKTC at Sunder Nursery, drawing attention to a
unique ensemble of 16th Century garden tombs, a number of
which have received World Heritage designation from UNESCO.
Having served as a plant nursery for
100 years, Sunder Nursery is now Delhi’s newest botanical garden and
the city’s first arboretum, with almost 300 tree species (the
largest number found in any of Delhi’s parks).
A 20-acre micro-habitat zone is
expected to be an important education facility and attract many of
the 500,000 school children who each year visit the adjoining
Humayun’s Tomb, also restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.
Designed by the renowned landscape
architect, the late Professor M. Shaheer, the new city park
encompasses formal gardens and informal settings for families to
enjoy, including water features, ponds and lakes, nursery beds,
intimate sunken gardens, a flower showcase, rose garden, orchards,
walking paths, seating and pavilions.
A sunken amphitheatre has been created
to hold cultural events and festivals celebrating local traditions.
A facilities wing will include rooms
for lectures and film screenings, food kiosks, a souvenir shop and
multi-purpose halls for training programmes.
The grand central vista, which is over
500 metres long, follows the path of the 16th Century
Grand Trunk Road, connecting the entrance zone of the Humayun’s Tomb
World Heritage Site with the 16th Century Azimganj Serai
to the north.
The creation of new green spaces and
botanical gardens at Sunder Nursery will constitute a significant
improvement in people’s living conditions and the quality of their
The new leisure spaces and meeting
places are expected to become an attraction for all area residents
as well as visitors, becoming a cultural space that will contribute
to economic and social development.
The Sunder Nursery is part of over a
decade of pioneering cultural revitalisation and socioeconomic urban
development projects undertaken by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture
across the 300 acres of project area, including the Humayun’s Tomb.
The environmental and conservation
efforts are coupled with a major socioeconomic effort aimed at
improving the quality of life for the residents of neighbouring
Nizamuddin Basti, by improving building standards, creating economic
opportunities, and providing education, vocational training, health,
and sanitation infrastructure.
These features are a hallmark of the
AKDN’s cultural development projects in countries across the
developing world and draw upon the Aga Khan’s conviction that
culture and development are inextricably linked, with cultural
legacies - appropriately rehabilitated or reconstructed- having the
potential to become powerful catalysts for change and for
The Aga Khan is in the country on a
10-day official visit at the invitation of the Government, on the
occasion of his Diamond Jubilee – commemorating 60 years as Imam of
the Shia Ismaili Muslims.
He acceded to the Imamat (the
institution of hereditary spiritual leadership) in 1957 at the age
of 20 years.
Earlier in the day, the Aga Khan met
with Vice President Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu who hosted a lunch in his
Later this evening the Aga Khan is
scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. During his
stay he is also expected to meet with President of India Honourable
Shri Ram Nath Kovind as well as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, the
Governor of Gujarat, Deputy Chief Minister of Telengana, and the
Chief Minister of Maharashtra and the Governor of Maharashtra.
These meetings are an opportunity to
review the longstanding partnership between India and the Ismaili
Imamat and to discuss how the institutions of the AKDN will continue
to serve the country in years to come, improving opportunities and
effecting sustainable improvement in the quality of life of
vulnerable populations of all faiths and backgrounds.