Home > Delhi, Delhi Architecture, Delhi Baoli, Delhi History, General > Dwarka Bawali, a recently discovered stepwell

Dwarka Bawali, a recently discovered stepwell

Dwarka Bawali

A recently discovered stepwell in Dwarka

Monsoon in India has a very short duration and moreover it has always been very unpredictable, this gave rise 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.

Dwarka Baoli (Loharheri Baoli), Delhi

Dwarka Baoli (Loharheri Baoli), Delhi

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. Stepwells are wells or ponds in which the water is reached by descending a set of steps. They are often multi storied in structure and are found in Western India and in the other more arid regions of South Asia, extending into Pakistan.

Apart from providing water Stepwells also served as a place for social gatherings and religious ceremonies. Usually, women were more associated with these wells because they were the ones who collected the water.

Front and side walls of Dwarka Baoli, Delhi

Front and side walls of Dwarka Baoli, Delhi

Also, it was they who prayed and offered gifts to the goddess of the well for her blessings.

This led to the building of some significant ornamental and architectural features, often associated with dwellings and in urban areas. It also ensured their survival as monuments.

Stepwells usually consist of two parts: a vertical shaft from which water is drawn and the surrounding inclined subterranean passageways, chambers and steps which provide access to the well. The galleries and chambers surrounding these wells were often carved profusely with elaborate detail and became cool, quiet retreats during the hot summers.

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. (Also see: A compilation of Baolis of Delhi).

Water outlets (left) and recessed arches on side wall, Dwarka Baoli, Delhi

Water outlets (left) and recessed arches on side wall, Dwarka Baoli, Delhi

A survey led by Maulvi Zafar Hasan of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 1910 confirmed the presence of more than a 100 baolis (or stepwells) in Delhi.

Only about a dozen of them have survived to this day and most of them are located in the central, south and south eastern part of Delhi. The newly developed posh Darwaka area in south west Delhi is the most unlikely place for an ancient Baoli.

The Dwarka Baoli finds a mention in Zafar Hassan list and is listed as the Loharheri Baoli or the Blacksmith’s stepwell. After Dwarka started coming up as a prominent residential sub-city in the late 1980s, many of the old villages which existed in southwest Delhi disappeared as did their names. Zafar Hassan mentions the monument is a one-of-its-kind structure as there is no evidence of any other structure in the area. No wonder the black smith’s workshop has long been replaced by high rise apartments but strangely the baoli has survived.

It was only in 2011 the Dwarka Baoli was again rediscovered from under a foliage of thick vegetation and undergrowth and hidden behind a large group of tall trees. It is located in sector 12 and situated in between the Dwarka Internation School and Gangotri Apartments.

Different views of Dwarka Baoli (Loharheri Baoli), Delhi

Different views of Dwarka Baoli (Loharheri Baoli), Delhi

Archaeological excavation carried out by the Delhi State Archaeological Department and Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural heritage (INTACH), Delhi reveled a 22 step stepwell or baoli, made of rubble masonry, measuring 52′ by 16′ 6″. The well, now covered by an iron grill, is situated on the southern end of the baoli. The side wall contains two sets of recessed arches.

Dwarka Baoli, which remains dry throughout the year,  is one of the smallest baolis of Delhi and obviously lacks the ornamentation and grace of its more celebrated cousins like the Agrasen ki Baoli, Rajon ki Baoli and Gandhak ki Baoli.

But a slice of history in one of Delhi’s most modern localities is what makes Dwarka Baoli (Loharheri Baoli) unique. No wonder it remains a  one-of-its-kind structure as there is no evidence of any other structure in the area.

Special Thanks:

  • Vikramjit Singh Rooprai, fellow heritage enthusiast from Delhi, who have worked extenssiveely on the Baolis (Stepwells) of Delhi
  • Sahil Ahuja, fellow blogger and heritage enthusiast, have accompanied in in exploring some of the lesser known monuments of Delhi. Also his amazing blog with loads of info, is always a source of reference.
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  1. September 14, 2017 at 1:50 AM

    Dwarka Baoli looks like a replica of Ugrasen ki Baoli. It’s surprising that it was hidden so long despite so much developments and settlements in Dwarka.

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