Friday, 6 September 2019

Delhi's baolis (step wells) - the Gandhak Ki Baoli, and the Rajon Ki Baoli.


Delhi Rajon ki Baoli en.wikipedia org
Delhi:Gandhak Ki Baoli, one of the three baolis in Mehrauli, en.wikipedia org
There are three baolis in the Mehrauli  Archaeological Park,near Delhi  mainlined by the Archaeological Survey of India. These are the Anangtal Baoli, the Gandhak Ki Baoli, and the Rajon Ki Baoli. These water wells are approached through single stage or three stage steps; hence are called step wells. These were built below the ground level. Anangtal Baoli is a single step well built in the 11th century. It is the oldest among the three wells. In 1060 AD, it was built by Rajput king Anangpal II. It is not well maintained by the authorities for unknown reasons.  In this brief post I cover only the last two baolis - Gandhak ki baoli and Rajon ki baoli .

Tourists visiting Delhi prefer seeing reputed monuments and do not set aside time to see other unique places of great antiquity taking us back to medieval time. One being Gandhak ki baoli whose name suggests a strong smell of sulphur. The smell does not come from the step well rather, it is said, from the near-by areas where they make freshly baked tandoori rotis from  Pehelwan Dhaba.  The smell reaches as far as  Mehrauli bus depot and past Adham Khan's tomb.
This step well was built by 13th-century Slave dynasty ruler Iltutmish, the early Muslim ruler of Delhi Sultanate. This step well that once served the needs of the people of this area is dry now. No trace of water. Thanks to the vast urbanization of Delhi and adjacent areas. Simple in its design, with thin stone  pillars and narrow walkways at each of its five tiers that lead to the well and back, it does  not have embellishments.  Located at walking distance from the Qutab Minar and on the road leading to the dargah of Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki and Gurdwara Banda Bahadur, the structure, is  not dilapidated, however, it does need repair and conservation,. This may make the baoli good enough to last for a long time.  The stairway here is about 40 meters (130 ft) long and 12 meters (39 ft) wide. At each level there are ornate pillared passages. Way back ASI undertook desilting of the well.

Rajon ki baoli, a 16th century baoli  located behind Gandhak ki baoli is yet another step well larger in size and more ornate. In the 16th century,  this step well was exclusively used by  the rajmistries or masons.; hence the name. Both these step wells offer a nice ambiance in the midst of greenery. From  inscription on the near-by mosque, we understand that  these monuments were built by Daulat Khan in 1506 during the reign of Sikandar Lodhi. The step well, etc were  constructed by Daulat Khan  with a view  serving the people of this area. 
Rajon ki baoli has  a colonnaded arcade running along three sides of the step well. Rectangular  in shape,  the symmetrical arches of the arcade and the incised plaster work make it impressive.  With four levels, each narrowing as you descend toward the well, there are rooms in the inner part of  the arcade.  Centuries ago, they provided  a cool retreat to the people to relax and  it must have seen water up to the 3rd level. In the past it was almost dry. ASI undertook cleaning of the baoli and desilting work up to a depth of 20 feet  in the past and now the baoli has considerable water; the water level had risen by 20 feet

Tourists coming to Delhi. must visit these sites that once served as a rain-water harvesting system,  especially useful in the scorching Delhi summer heat. 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baolis_of_Mehrauli
https://www.asianpaints.com/colourquotient/Showcase/the-vanishing-stepwells-of-india-documents-victoria-lautmans-pursuit-of-lost-indian-architecture/



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