sulabh swatchh bharat

Saturday, 15-December-2018

Thematic Calendar

New Delhi| Seeking to bring attention to centuries-old baolis in the city and celebrate their architectural and cultural legacy, Delhi Assembly and heritage activists have joined hands to bring out a thematic calendar.

Delhi is home to over 20 baolis (step-wells), many of which lie buried under earth or obscured by modern constructions around it.

Spread across the capital city from central to south Delhi, many baolis have for ages stoked the curiosity of residents, but several of them have also slipped into oblivion due to lack of awareness or preservation.

"Delhi Assembly wanted to come up with a heritage-themed calendar for 2017. And, so, I suggested baolis as a theme. We finally selected 12 baolis for it, from Ugrasen ki Baoli near Connaught Place to Rajon ki Baoli in Mehrauali.

"The idea is also to bring our youth closer to our heritage, many of whom now just flock to malls and multiplexes, or visit baolis without understanding their significance," told heritage activist Sohail Hashmi.

While Hashmi conceptualised and provided text for the calendar, city-based young heritage campaigner and photographer Vikramjit Singh Rooprai contributed the photographs.

"Some of the photographs were taken in 2016, while a few other a year before that. Some of them were taken even earlier, in different seasons. Baolis is how our ancestors used to store water.

"And, though, it would be a great idea to revive these water storage mechanism, measure must be taken to make sure they remain in use, otherwise, they will become a breeding ground for mosquitoes," he said.

The other 10 baolis which find a place in the calendar include -- Gandhak ki Baoli, located in Mehrauli and said to bear the name due to the rich sulphur (gandhak) found in its water, Hazrat Nizamuddin Baoli, Red Fort Baoli, Wazirpur Baoli of Lodi era and Tughlaqabad Baoli.

The calendar, made both for wall and table, was released by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on December 31 under the 'Heritage of Delhi' series at the Delhi Assembly, itself an iconic colonial heritage building.

"This (Gandhak ki Baoli), the oldest surviving step well in Delhi is believed to be have been commissioned by Shams-ud-din Altamash for use of visitors to the hospice of Qutb-ud-din Bahktyar kaaki," the text for the February month reads.

"Step wells are a combination of a well and stairs that descend to the level of subterranean water for easy access.

Though Delhi once had over 100 step wells, we are now Left with about two dozen," the Delhi Assembly says in its message on the calendar.

Hashmi also rues the drying up and disappearance of these baolis, saying, efforts must be made on their revival, while protecting them from the onslaught of modernity.