Rajon Ki Baoli, Mehrauli Archeological Park, Delhi
Rajon Ki Baoli
Mehrauli Archeological Park, Delhi
Also see: Monuments of Mehrauli
Monsoon in India has a very short duration and moreover it has always been very unpredictable, this gave rice to the necessity of water conservation.
Over the centuries Indians have constructed artificial lakes and dug wells to hold the water supplied by the monsoon rains.
It is often said that “Necessity is the Mother of Invention” and the necessity of conservation of water, for the dry season, led to the construction of step wells.
Step wells also known as baoli in Delhi, vaav in Gujarat and barab in Maharashtra, is a unique form of architecture built around the gigantic shaft of a well.
The construction is simple and consists of a well with a huge diameter and depth. Just on the opposite side of the shaft is a broad staircase leading down to the water level.
The face adjoining the shaft is provided with shallow arched passageways descending several levels below the ground level. Similar passageways on the side, which connects the above mentioned passageway with the broad staircase.
Generally the step wells are U – shaped but there are always exceptions in architecture and L – shaped or octagonal step well are not uncommon.
Delhi, although located on the banks of Yamuna River, suffers from long period of severe water shortage.
No wonder Delhi houses a number of step wells, which the Delhiwalls call Baoli.
The citadels of Red Fort and Feroz Shah Kotla each houses a baoli and Agrasen Ki Baloi is located next to the Jantar Mantar. The Mehaurali Archeological Park house the Gandhak Ki Baoli and the most spectacular Rajon Ki Baoli.
Built by Dalut Khan during the reign of Sikandar Lodhi (1489 – 1517) the Rajon Ki Baoli descended down to four levels. The baoli served as a residence of the mason during the early 20th century and hence the name Rajon Ki Baoli.
The step well of Rajon Ki Baoli has been restored in the early 2000 by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) with the assistance of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Rajon Ki Baoli follows the conventional U – shaped pattern and as one slowly descends the broad staircase the grandeur of the spectacular structure unfolds, before his eyes.
Sadly the water in the Rajon Ki Baoli has long dried up and has come to be known as the sukha baoli or the dray well. Even in the height of monsoon one can only find traces of black greasy water at the very bottom. But in spite of its dryness Rajon Ki Baoli still maintains its graceful charm and architectural beauty.
Small narrow staircases leads to the terrace of Rajon Ki Baoli, which offers a spectacular view of the Mehrauli region houses a small mosque on the western side.
The mosque is small and simple but still has an elegant look. In front of the mosque stands a domed pavilion supported by 12 pillars. The dome is crowned with a floral motif finial and only traces of blue ceramic tiles can be seen to this day.
Similar narrow staircase leads on to the subterranean levels of Rajon Ki Baoli, sadly the arches on the frontal part of the step well are only decorative.
Those on the side are simple and devoid of any ornamentation.
However the side walls contains shallow alcoves, where earthen lamps were lit up during the medieval period to light up the Rajon Ki Baoli at night.
The experience of descending the narrow staircases leading to the deep inside the Rajon Ki Baoli, is an experience back in time and a lesson no history book could ever provide.