DK & Aga Khan Trust for Culture launch the definitive guide to Humayun’s Tomb, Sunder Nursery and Nizamuddin.
Delhi is a true delight for lovers of history, architecture, culture, and nature. Of its many sublime offerings, one that has drawn attention over the centuries is the triangle formed by Humayun’s Tomb, Sunder Nursery, and the bustling colonies of Nizamuddin. Between these three, one can satiate their curiosity for the ancient, beautiful, peaceful, and alive all
To capture the beauty of this area in the heart of Delhi, publishing house DK, in collaboration with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), recently launched an in-depth guidebook. In keeping with the spirit of its subject, it was launched at the Garden Amphitheatre at Sunder Nursery by author Mayank Austen Soofi, or The Delhi Walla as he is popularly known; Farid Nizami, Sajjadanashin of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s dargah; author Gillian Wright; Aparna Sharma, Managing Director, DK India; and Archana Saad Akhtar, Programmes Director, AKTC. The launch of the book was accompanied by an exhibition on the sights and attractions of the Humayun’s Tomb-Nizamuddin Area. The evening ended with a soulful qawwali performance by Ustad Ghulam Qadir Niazi Nizami.
The book’s blurb promises to take you on “a walk through Sunder Nursery’s abundant biodiversity, marvel at the 13th-century garden tombs or delve into the fascinating displays at the museum. DK Eyewitness Humayun’s Tomb, Sunder Nursery, and Nizamuddin transports you to ancient times with its narrative of each sight’s historical significance.”
Apart from the sights and sounds of the area, the book provides insight into ongoing efforts for the scientific conservation and ecological preservation of these monuments with the aim of restoring them to their former glory to aid in the promotion of sustainable tourism. The book contains expert-led insights, travel advice, details of everything that must be seen, and engaging visuals on every page, including photos and hand-drawn illustrations to help you see the iconic buildings and neighbourhoods as if you were within them.
Archana Saad Akhtar of the AKTC says, “The Nizamuddin area guidebook by DK in collaboration with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture is a unique publication which bridges the gap between these three historically connected but presently segregated areas of Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti, Humayun’s Tomb Complex, and Sunder Nursery.”
She further adds, “The Nizamuddin area has been in continuous habitation since the 13th century when its first palace building, Lal Mahal or Kushaki Lal, was built here by Sultan Ghiyas ud Din Balban in CE 1245, until the British set up the Sunder Nursery in the early 20th century. It continues to be inhabited to this day.” The area has seen the presence of every sultan and emperor to have ruled from Delhi. They have built monuments and instituted places for pilgrimages, offerings, and seeking solace. There is plenty of tangible and intangible heritage in this area, and the guidebook is an attempt to help visitors gain easy access
The guidebook contains information on the 60+ monuments in this area. It also focuses on the key cultural icons of the area such as Nizamuddin Auliya, Khusrau, Rahim, Ghalib, Jahanara, and Dara Shukoh. One also finds insight into the poetic wealth of the Indian subcontinent through Khusrau’s qawwali and Rahim’s dohas. Nature lovers will be enthralled with the ecological paradise of Sunder Nursery and its numerous trees, birds, flowers, butterflies, and water bodies. Most of all, the book highlights the historical, architectural, and cultural significance of the monuments in this area, including the UNESCO World Heritage site of Humayun’s Tomb Complex, which includes 14 monuments.
The guidebook provides visitors with ample choices to spend many fruitful hours in the area, divided into slots of 6-hours, 12-hours, and going up to 1-year in the area. The book also offers guides to various nature trails, heritage routes, information on the over 100 bird species, as well as rare trees from Sunder Nursery, birds, butterflies, and other beings.
In his speech delivered at the launch of the book, Soofi summarised, “I’d like to buy all the copies of this book and keep them locked inside my closet. Seriously. Seeing the cover, the title, makes me feel super-possessive about the places in it. For this is my ilaka, my area. Every little nook, lane, park here feels a part of my private homeland. Sometimes I want to be reborn as a bird who can spend all its day flying upon this golden triangle of Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah, Nizamuddin East-West-Basti, and the Humayun Tomb-Sunder Nursery Complex.”
The DK Eyewitness Guide to Humayun’s Tomb, Sunder Nursery, and Nizamuddin is available at all leading bookstores and online on Amazon.
Noor Anand Chawla pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com.