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From eyesore to sightseeing hub

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From eyesore to sightseeing hub

If you always wanted to see New York's Statue of Liberty, or the Colosseum in Rome, or even Rio's Christ the Redeemer Statue, you can see models of them and the other wonders of the world, some metres from each other in a park at Sarai Kale Khan. These replicas can all be viewed within an area of nearly five acres right here in the Capital. What makes them architectural marvels is the fact that they've all been constructed from large amounts of waste material.

The park, aptly named 'Waste to Wonder', is a testimony both to engineering ingenuity as well as constructive use of scrap. The park was a South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) initiative. Says SDMC chairperson Shikha Rai, "There is so much scrap material that has been abandoned. We wanted to use it an environmentally friendly and aesthetic way so everyone can come and learn about the seven wonders here in the Capital." The park has attracted hundreds of tourists and locals since its inauguration in February." Comments one of the security guards posted here, "I don't think we can keep count of them. On weekends, the park feels like a fair."

If one approaches the park from a distance, the first of the wonders visible is the model of the Eiffel Tower. It is 21 metres high, and made from automobile parts and truck petrol parts, rather than wrought iron. It is still a meticulous miniature of the original, down to the design in the lower arches. Of all the structures, this one draws some of the biggest crowds of parents, young children and selfie-taking college students.

The 23-feet-high-Great Pyramid of Giza sculpture also displays an impressive use of pipes and truck sheets. Some metres away, the Leaning Tower of Pisa model is 39 feet high and made with scrap such as clutch plates and typewriter parts. It still manages to convey the precarious tilt of the original.

A lot closer home for Delhiites is the Taj Mahal structure. Made from cooking kadhais and children's swings, among other material, it has the same emphasis on symmetry as its original in Agra. It even has a small fountain in front. The domes are made of cut pipes, which give it a translucent quality.

That might seem incongruous in daytime, but, at night, when the park is lit beautifully, it has the luminous effect of a lantern.

There is a pair of small information boards a few feet away from each model. The dimensions and quantity of the materials used, and other such details are helpfully listed on one of these. The others have details of the originals. Charu Seth, who regularly brings her sevenyear-old and nineyear-old here remarks on them. "We come here so often that these are some of the only general knowledge details I hope my children can remember."

The park is an ideal place for family and leisure outings, with its wide green spaces, broad pathways, fountains, pavilions, and benches which are always occupied by couples. It is at night, when the park is lighted up, that the crowds escalate. It is no wonder then that it attracts large numbers, as the lights give the replicas an illusion of greater height, and a closer resemblance to the originals. The effect of the lit-up structures and fountains serve to make a spectacular nighttime display. As Sneh Singh, a first year student at Maitreyi says, "The sculptures look incredible with these lights in the evening. Even the actual Taj Mahal during the purnima isn't so brightly lit up."

Outside the front gates, there are no lack of street vendors, selling golgappas, tea, and ice cream. In the evenings, they increase with the crowds. As an Uber driver comments, "Good thing it's not the weekend. If it had been, I wouldn't have been able to come to the gate to pick you up."

In more ways than one, the Waste to Wonder Park is good riddance to bad rubbish.