I AMBLE GINGERLY on the paved walkway leading up to the Sunder Burj, my pace losing its morning vigour with every passing second as I undergo a quiet hypnotism impressed upon me by the bridelike majesty of the structure. The spell is momentarily broken when the scent of autumn, diffused in the air by the flowers crushed under passing feet, meets with my sense of smell. This is despite the restrictive grasp of the mask on my face that the times have necessitated. But it is a cloth mask, cotton, to be precise, and is coordinated nicely with the setting on account of the little blue flowers, so who’s complaining?
Yes, with a pandemic raging, we have decided, after much haunt-hunting, to hand ourselves to Sunder Nursery on an overcast Delhi morning. I remember stepping out of home like a baby that first learns to walk and into the Uber rather circumspectly like I had never learned to entrust myself to a vehicle. In the space of the half-hour it took us to reach here, we sanitised our hands twice, not afraid of setting our palms on fire in the Delhi sun, whose wicked nature even the virus doesn’t seem to have softened after all.
Anyway, all the hassle seems to be paying off. Deprived of travel and free mingling with the great outdoors, this 90-acre arboretum speckled with 15 heritage monuments (six of them Unesco World Heritage Sites) already seems to have upstaged the Garden of Eden itself in my imagination.
Built-in the 16th century, the freshly restored Sunder Burj hides behind its extraordinary stature a channel for water to flow in, interspersed by fountains and rivulets complemented sublimely by flowerbeds. The benches here provide stimulating angles to view the supreme architecture of the titular structure of the park. We even spend a good half-hour climbing up to the platform and venturing inside, stocking up to feed our hungry Instagrams when another pandemic strikes.
The end of the water channel diverges into two circuits. Being modern humans, we haven’t got Robert Frost’s individualism so we take the road presumably more travelled by. Thankfully, the area plan is such that you have to be really special to miss a lot. And it leads towards a waterbody whose exotic composure is accentuated with each passing second by the approaching cloud cover. The opposite bank overhangs with dramatic laburnum and a couple of women softly discuss politics under it. It is an artificial lake, we learn by ourselves somehow, and loutishly hog a bench with quaint armrests to fully soak in the foreign country feel that we prize so much here. I remember muttering to myself: “No, don’t say yeh toh India ka Scotland hai.”
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