Photographer's Note

Rajon ki Baoli is not a must-see in the itinerary of the average back-packeror tourist to Delhi but for the odd wayward traveller who chances upon this early 16th century step-well, the experience is worth the effort.

Situated amidst the desolation of the Mehrauli Archaeological Park, the pale pink baoli is grandeur in lime and stone, its robust square stone steps, surrounded by arched pavilions, leading down to a dank, shadowy central receptacle. "It has an extraordinary appearance," says Bashruddin Ahmed in his early 20th century account, Waqayat-e-Darool Haqumat Dehli. "It almost seems," he writes, "that the masons—or ‘rajon’ from whom the baoli gets its name—have been sitting there till a while ago, and have just left." Of the original four storeys, only three are visible now, the other lost to constant siltation.

Baoli or ‘bai’, as they are sometimes locally called, are often too commonplace to excite curiosity. The word baoli derives from the Persian root word 'baori',
meaning a large well. Their primary function across the ages has been to preserve water and act as resting places through the hot and sultry summer months, at a time when even all-powerful emperors like Muhammad bin Tughlaq or later Akbar carried Ganges water for consumption during their jaunts since water found elsewhere was often not potable. These considerations might have weighed on his mind when Daulat Khan Lodhi constructed Rajon ki Baoli sometime in 1506, during the reign of Sikandar Lodhi. The baoli was used by masons for some time. Hence, it got its name as Rajon Ki Baoli.

In his account, Bashruddin Ahmed mentions that 56 steps led down to the central reservoir, while nine more steps could be discerned under the crystal clear water.

Today’s Rajon ki Baoli is very different from Ahmed’s days. But after enduring years of neglect, its cause has recently been taken up by the Delhi chapter of The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). In the olden days, these baolis supplied drinking water to the area.

When I visited this Baoli with Meneer Dennis , who I had the privilege of accompanying for some photoshoot that day, I found the well, occupied by a group of young men bathing. Decided against a crop here, since the environment & surroundings is IMO important here...otherwise it becomes just another 'jump' photo! What do you feel?

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Additional Photos by Angshuman Chatterjee (Angshu) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 7851 W: 324 N: 16060] (56760)
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