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  • Sunder Nursery’s Central Axis with the 16th century Sunder Burj in the backdrop, New Delhi, India.
  • Aligned with the large entrance plaza of Humayun’s tomb, Sunder Nursery features a spectacular pedestrian Central Axis conceived in three parts, as a progression of formally arranged gardens around the heritage structures and merging at its end with the proposed arboretum and water gardens.
  • Interior, restored plasterwork in the Batashewala Complex, Sunder Nursery, Delhi, India. The project is undertaken by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, which for over a decade, has been engaged in undertaking a unique urban renewal initiative in the Humayun’s Tomb – Nizamuddin area of Delhi.
    AKDN / Christian Richters
  • Established in the early 20th century to propagate plants for the city of New Delhi, the Central Public Works Department owned Sunder Nursery stands on 67 acres of land. It abuts Humayun’s Tomb World Heritage Site and the 12 acre Batashewala complex – both in the care of the Archaeological Survey of India. Since 2007, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture has partnered with CPWD and ASI to create a unique city park spread across 90 acres.
  • Restoration of Sunder Burj restored ceiling, Sunder Nursery, New Delhi, India. The location of Sunder Nursery, adjacent to Humayun’s Tomb Complex and Nizamuddin Basti, largely follows the Mughal Grand Trunk Road connecting significant monuments. The landscape design aims to enhance the historic character of the nursery, attract visitors and provide a seamless pedestrian connection with Humayun’s Tomb Complex.
AKTC receives two awards, for Sustainable Development and Excellence, from UNESCO

Delhi, India, 18 December 2020 – The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) has won two important awards from UNESCO’s Asia-Pacific regional office – for cultural heritage conservation and sustainable development – in Delhi’s Sunder Nursery. The prizes include:

- The 2020 Award for Special Recognition for Sustainable Development

- The 2020 Award for Excellence

The awards were established in 2000 to recognise “the efforts of private individuals and organisations that have successfully restored, conserved and transformed structures and buildings of heritage value in the region”.

UNESCO’s Director in Bangkok, Mr Shigeru Aoyagi, remarked: “As you know, culture, nature and heritage are embedded across many of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. As the United Nation’s only agency with a mandate for heritage, UNESCO advocates using heritage as a driver for sustainable development.”

Luis Monreal, AKTC’s General Manager, welcomed the prize. “What these two prizes signify is that good stewardship of the environment means we can simultaneously attend to the world’s heritage and take care of ecological concerns,” he said. “Our work in 10 different parks around the world, and our conservation of monuments around these parks, suggests that we must, as a matter of urgency, combine these two endeavours.”

Ratish Nanda, AKTC’s CEO in India, said that the awards “underscore precisely what we wanted to do, which was to not just preserve historical buildings, but also to restore the natural environment, which had suffered over many years. Promoting ecological development and sustainability whilst providing an educational format for its visitors was a key goal of the Sunder Nursery project”.

The UNESCO Master Jury awarded Special Recognition for Sustainable Development on Sunder Nursery for its “transformative impact in turning a barren site into an urban oasis in the heart of New Delhi”. According to the UNESCO press release, the project “pays equal attention to ecological restoration, thus underscoring the message that heritage conservation is beyond monuments and is only truly sustainable when essential linkages between nature and culture are profoundly understood and nurtured”. UNESCO introduced the new Special Recognition category in 2020 to acknowledge how cultural heritage can be leveraged to achieve sustainable development.

The 2020 Award for Excellence, the highest level of achievement in the Awards’ conservation category, was also given to Sunder Nursery for its “comprehensive renewal of the Sunder Nursery ensemble [that] sets a new bar for heritage restoration and serves as a catalytic model for public-private partnerships in India”. It also mentioned that “world-class conservation combining the latest technology with rich building craft traditions reinstated severely dilapidated Mughal tombs, decorative works, and garden features, such as lotus ponds, following an extensive process of study and documentation… The vitality of Sunder Nursery, which is partly included in the World Heritage Site of Humayun’s Tomb, is a testament to the project team’s multi-faceted approach to heritage conservation and establishes a paradigm for connecting physical fabric to ecology and societal well-being”.

Over the last 20 years, AKTC’s conservation work has won a number of awards, including 15 from UNESCO’s Asia-Pacific office.

For press enquiries:

Jeremy Clay Walden-Schertz
Media Officer
UNESCO Bangkok

Sam Pickens


Since 2000, the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation programme have been recognising the efforts of private individuals and organisations that have successfully restored, conserved and transformed structures and buildings of heritage value in the region. By acknowledging private efforts to restore and adapt historic properties, the Awards encourage other property owners to undertake conservation projects within their communities, either independently or by seeking public-private partnerships. For more information about the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation, please see:

For over 30 years, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) has shown how culture can be an asset and that it can be a catalyst for improvements in the quality of life – even in the poorest and remote areas of the globe. It works to preserve and revitalise cultural assets; reinvigorates cultural traditions; creates education programmes that foster mutual understanding; and identifies architectural excellence that positively impacts the way people live, work and interact. The Trust’s programmes include the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme, the Aga Khan Music Programme, the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada, the on-line resource, and related programmes. For more information about the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme, please see: For more information on the projects in Delhi, India, please see the Nizamuddin Renewal site:


Aerial view over the newly constructed main spine of the Sunder Nursery public garden.