One of the most striking features of Sunder Burj, an early 16th-century Mughal-era tomb in New Delhi, India, is its domed ornamental ceiling. The ceiling design, a highly stylized rendition of stars in the night sky, is unmatched in its architectural elegance. Once on the verge of utter ruin, Sunder Burj, meaning “beautiful tower,” is now part of a UNESCO-certified heritage complex witnessing a renaissance in public interest.
The newly restored Sunder Burj is situated at the main entrance to Sunder Nursery, the city’s first arboretum, established in the early 20th century. There are also approximately 15 other historical monuments within the complex, including the Lakkarwala Burj, the Mughal Tomb, and Mirza Muzaffar Hussain’s tomb. Extensive conservation work has been carried out on the mausoleums, keeping in mind the preservation of their architectural integrity. From structural repairs to environmental conservation, it took over 10 years to restore the historic necropolis to its former glory.
The restoration of Sunder Burj’s ceiling alone required considerable time and effort. The ceiling, now radiant in the honeyed light of an autumn afternoon, had suffered extensive damage due to water seepage and shoddy repair work conducted previously. Trained craftsmen worked tirelessly to restore the decorative plasterwork of the domed ceiling and repair the cracks in the mausoleum’s walls and latticed screens.
In landscape design, the conservationists sought inspiration from the formally arranged gardens of the Mughal era. The grand central vista, with its verdant gardens, running canals, flower beds, and sandstone seating, offers sweeping views of the complex. Named as one of the “World’s 100 Greatest Places of 2018” by Time Magazine, this 90-acre historic complex marks an astonishing feat in the field of heritage conservation.
Know Before You Go
Entry to the complex is ticketed at a nominal price.