Baolis of Mehrauli

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Gandhak Ki Baoli, one of the three baolis in Mehrauli

The Baolis of Mehrauli are three water wells approached through single stage or three stage steps known as stepwells located in Mehrauli in Delhi, India, in the Mehrauli Archaeological Park mainlined by the Archaeological Survey of India. These are the Anangtal Baoli, the Gandhak Ki Baoli, and the Rajon Ki Baoli.[1][2] These were built below the ground level as ground water edifices and were built as near shrines in medieval times.[3]

Location[edit]

The baolis in Mehrauli are located in the South West district of Delhi. Two of the baolis, Gandhak ki Baoli and Rajon ki Baoli, lie in the Archaeological Park maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India near Qutab Minar. Gandhak ki Baoli (to the south of the Adham Khan's tomb[3]) is at one extremity of the Archaeological Park.[1] Rajon ki Baoli is 200 metres (660 ft) away from this baoli.[4] Anangtal Baoli is in a forest 100 meters (330 ft) west of the Yogmaya Mandir, behind a neighborhood and outside of the Archaeological Park complex. While the baoli built by Emperor Aurangzeb near Zafar Mahal was illegally occupied and destroyed by locals to make residential houses.[5]

History[edit]

The oldest of the three baolis, Anangtal Baoli, was built in the 11th century (1060 AD[3]) by Rajput king Anangpal II of the Tomar dynasty in the then capital area of Lalkot of Delhi. Gandhak ki Baoli is believed to have been built during the 13th century when the slave dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate Iltutmish (1211–1236 AD) ruled over Delhi. The Rajon ki Baoli is named after the rajmistries or masons who used it. It was built during the 16th century,[2][3][6] by Daulat Khan during the rule of Sikander Lodhi of the Lodhi Dynasty.[2] The Baoli of Aurangzeb was built by Emperor Aurangzeb. It measured 130 feet by 36 feet while the well was 30 feet in diameter, it contained 74 steps and was built in three stage.The Baoli was illegally demolished by local residents to make way for residential apartments. The area of the Baoli is now an uphill road with rows of homes, shops and warehouses on each side.The area of the Baoli is now an uphill road with rows of homes, shops and warehouses on each side.[7][8]

Features[edit]

Anangtal Baoli on 8 December, 2018

Anangtal Baoli[edit]

The Anangtal Baoli (28°31'31.7"N 77°10'53.8"E), the oldest baoli in Delhi, is a single stage step well.[6] Excavations at this site reveal that the well was probably very large; some steps leading to the water are extant. It used the technique of rainwater harvesting for its storage. The baoli is located in a forest behind a neighborhood and is used as a local waste dump and pig farm, with sewage running into it. While it was supposed to be maintained by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the Delhi High Court ordered that the Yogmaya Mandir Welfare and Management Society take over, since the DDA was failing in its duties.[9] As of 8 December, 2018, the baoli is not maintained and does not have any markers signifying its historical relevance.

Gandhak ki Baoli[edit]

The Gandhak ki Baoli (28°31′15″N 77°10′54″E / 28.52078°N 77.18168°E / 28.52078; 77.18168 (Gandhak ki Baoli)) is a much larger step well than the Anangtal Baoli. It has decorative architectural features. As the name Gandhak implies, the water in the step well has sulphur content and hence smells of sulphur fumes, and the water is said to have curative quality. It has a simple plan with five stages or floors at each stage, in taper down fashion, with steps leading to the water surface at the lowest level.[1][2] The stairway here is about 40 metres (130 ft) long and 12 metres (39 ft) wide.[3] On each floor there are ornate pillared passages. Over the centuries the step well got silted up and recently ASI imitated action to do desilting.[1][2] the desilting operations carried out by ASI in 2004–05 has resulted in recuperation of the water in the well to a depth of 40 feet (12 m).[4]

Rajon ki Baoli[edit]

Rajon ki Baoli

The Rajon ki Baoli (28°31′13″N 77°11′00″E / 28.52028°N 77.18346°E / 28.52028; 77.18346 (Rajon ki Baoli)), rectangular in plan, is the largest and most ornamented of all the three baolis in Mehrauli. It has a series of steps forming four stages, each in descending size, with floors at each stage, leading to the water level from the surrounding ground level. Its appearance is like a courtyard of the medieval period with passages marked by stylized carved symmetrical arches spanning the columns in North Indian architectural style, which form the three sides of the baoli. There are rooms at each floor which once provided a cool resting place for people. With its incised plaster work, the baoli is an elegant architectural edifice. When built the water used to reach up to the third stage.[1][2] Over the centuries the well got silted up. It has since been desilted. The Archaeological Survey of India has carried out desilting operations of the well which was silted to a depth of 20 feet (6.1 m), during 2004–05. As a result, the water level has risen by 20 ft and 60 steps in the well lead to the surface of water.[4]

Baoli of Emperor Aurangzeb[edit]

Situated to the west of Zafar Mahal, near the Dargah of Khwaja Qutub-uddin Bakhtiyar Kaki in Mehrauli it was built by Emperor Aurangzeb in imitation of Gandhak ki Baoli and Rajon Ki Baoli. It measured 130 feet by 36 feet while the well was 30 feet in diameter, it contained 74 steps and was built in three stage. The Baoli was destroyed to make residential houses. The area of the Baoli is now an uphill road with rows of homes, shops and warehouses on each side.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Das, Alokparna (10 May 2009). "Well worth a visit". Indian Express. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Baolis / Heritage Water Bodies In Delhi" (PDF). Tourism Department of Government of Delhi. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e "The Stepwells of Delhi" (PDF). Delhi Heritage City organization. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 November 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "ASI revives three water bodies near Qutub Minar". The Hindu. 5 October 2014. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  5. ^ Aneja, Supreet (23 June 2018). "Delhi: Aurangzeb ki Baoli lost in the sands of time". DNA India. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  6. ^ a b Sinha 2014, p. 33.
  7. ^ Aneja, Supreet (23 June 2018). "Delhi: Aurangzeb ki Baoli lost in the sands of time". DNA India. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  8. ^ Paliwal, Amita. "Zafar Mahal: A history of the Late Mughal Monument". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ "DDA fails,HC gives private body a chance". The Indian Express. 11 May 2009. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  10. ^ Aneja, Supreet (23 June 2018). "Delhi: Aurangzeb ki Baoli lost in the sands of time". DNA India. Retrieved 14 May 2021.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Sinha, Chandan (7 July 2014). Haunted India. Chandan Kumar Sinha. pp. 33–. GGKEY:UN4C82SCF77.