Sunday, November 9, 2014

Jewellery scenario in Delhi and its environs

Jewelry scenario in Delhi and its environs

They say “the past reflects the future”, and it is amply so for India’s capital Delhi. If one were to look at the current scenario for jewelry in Delhi, one needs to understand the past glory of the city. A glory which transcends time, and goes back to nearly 5000 years. Delhi is said to be the erstwhile capital of the Pandavas in the historic epic Mahabharata founded in 2500 BC and was called Indraprastha. A village by that name did exist till the early 19th century. The description of the jewels worn by Royalty in the historic Mahabharata is reflective of the trade in gold and precious stones even then. The earliest archaeological relic from Delhi has been traced to 300 B.C.

What is available

It was not as if the techniques developed in Delhi, but most techniques and exquisitely manufactured products made their way to Delhi. Over time craftsmen also settled down in the bylanes to offer some of the finest in jewelry. If the craftsmen did not like the environs to work, the traders ensured its supply by contracting out to the workers in whichever part of the country. In Delhi the main centres of Karol Bagh and Chandni Chowk together have as many as 5000 retailers. The export from the Northern Region Delhi and its environs can easily be worth Rs. 4000 – Rs. 5000 crores in a year.

Such is the fondness for jewelry that even small neighborhood shopping complex,  every area has more than one such market, has at least 2 – 3 shops to boast. So in Delhi almost all types of jewelry making thrives. Though organized in its own right, the trade functions in a scattered manner and to the outsider would look disorganized. Most jeweler families are hereditary tracing their business to at least 3 – 4 generations earlier. Their working is done through hereditary craftsmen who have been associated with the family for over generations. It is only rare that such arrangements are broken. 

What is interesting is that in Delhi, a cultural melting pot where its people are drawn from all parts of the country, the jewelry craftsmen also come from all parts of the country, bringing together a collection of techniques, skills, designs and motifs. Most of them migrated to the city to cater to the population from that particular part of the country. However with time, they become part of the cosmopolitan population of the city. Thus it is possible to see craftsmen from all most all parts of the country and the diversity of jewelry offered is amazing.  For example, Prakash Works operating in South Delhi are a team of craftsmen from Kerala (2814 kms from Delhi) who specialize in light weight jewelry. Similarly, Karmarkar is another goldsmith from West Bengal (1461 kms from Delhi), who operates from Karol Bagh specializing in bangles, karas (bracelets). It is these craft workshops which are the hallmark of jewelry trade and making in the city. They have their own repertoire of designs or execute designs given to them by designers and bigger jewelry stores. They can procure their own metal or alternatively the gold is provided by the customer. A lot of designers work in this manner. The craftsmen usually work on a contractual basis.

Highlight – In case you are looking for designs pertaining to a particular community, the best bet is to look up an “aunty” or an “uncle” well versed in the tradition of that community. They will refer you to a good craftsman or local jewellery of the community. Or even discreet enquiries of which jeweller they source their jewellery from and you should be on your way.
Insider Tip – Be careful to check the hallmarking on gold. In many cases it will be difficult to sell it off to another jeweller who will claim that the quality of gold is inferior. Ask the friendly source on the purity of gold and if the jeweler will buy back the gold jewellery. When selling jewellery studded with stones, the stones are never valued. It is better to re-set the jewellery into some new pieces. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Delhi's Jugaad - Haryana Computers – a hole in the wall place but an excellent repair centre for mother boards, CPU and more

Obsolete in computers is an oft repeat word. With every new technology, the old not only becomes redundant, it becomes infinitely difficult to find a part or worse still get it repaired. More so finding a good repair shop which is reasonable, is efficient and understands the parts well, more so actually takes pride in the repair is next to impossible. My father, the ever optimistic usually says, there is nothing that cannot be repaired in Delhi! And his prophecy came true at this little hole in a basement in Nehru Place regarding computer repair. I had been sounded on it by a visiting Engineer who came to repair my computer. A visit to Nehru Place, Modi Tower to be precise and then making one’s way to the basement. Believe me, it is one place anyone will happily avoid. It is neither plush or sophisticated, entirely basic. However, there are plenty of hardware, software, stationery and photocopy shops in the basement. Haryana Computers is run by Girija Shankar Singh and he works diligently with two of his assistants out of a 10X6 ft or so space. The fact that in the surroundings he can find all spare parts and actually get a computer working in a jiffy is unbelievable.

Location – Nehru Place is around 17 or so kms from Connaught Place. Read the post on Nehru Place shopper’s paradise for IT products and fabrics for further information on the place. Modi Tower is located behind Paras Cinema theatre. It is one of the old classic cinema halls surviving ole fashioned way unlike the modern PVRs and DTs. The address is : B-8, 98  Hemkunt Tower, (Modi Corp.)Nehru Place.

How to get there -  Very well connected by the Metro, Buses, Autos, Taxis… Parking though is a nightmare. 

Highlight – The shop is much sought after for repairing lap tops especially mother boards and all cards. The way mother boards are brought there to be repaired and sent back is amazing to watch. How he remembers what came from where and not loose a single part is simply incredulous. They do not do doorstep service. One has to cart the computer to their shop. It is well worth the trouble in my opinion.

Insider Tip – Do not reveal this, I had gone to him to get my PIII going!!! It had a lot of data which had to removed before the comp could be found another place. I am not sure what was the problem but some spare parts which were “bloated”, voila the PC was working. A bit of pleading, a promise to be written about here, he copied the data on to my external HDD and deleted all the files. Am I happy, you bet at a very affordable price too!!! When waiting, you can indulge at the Revlon company outlet on the ground floor of Modi Tower. They have a lot of combo offers with free gifts which is not available in the open market. Also the entire range is on display with free testers.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Delhi's tryst with solar - Solar Energy Centre or National Institute of Solar Energy

Next to Teri’s RETREAT or Teri Gram as the board proclaims, is the Solar Energy Centre or National Insitute of Solar Energy which is run under the MNRE (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy). The non-descript building houses the testing centre and it can be called to be nerve centre for the pioneering work being done in Solar Power in the country. The centre has got a further boost after the launch of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Mission on Solar Power. The centre is good kilometer or more from the entrance. There is work in progress and the plenty of construction activity going on. But it is inside the place that one sees the remarkable work being done using solar power – solar thermal and solar photovoltaic system. There are air conditioning systems being run on solar power. Solar power is being stored in batteries, invertors. Solar thermal energy is being used to produce heating which inturns works on cooling. This is used to cool building, air conditioning systems and more. Similarly the same technology running water through panels results in brackish or bad water being converted into good quality drinking water. This replaces conventional RO system using solar power. The waste of water in RO system which throws out good quality of water is avoided. Apart from saving on water wastage, this uses solar power so there is saving on both the front.

There are agricultural pumps which are operated using solar power. There are umpteen number of solar panels available with higher and greater efficiency. The centre in itself is a fine example of how solar power can be harnessed for homes and day to day purposes. More so, the staff and those associated with the place are extremely extremely courteous with a passion for energy efficiency, alternate power and more. The building when run on solar power runs akin to any other place supporting all modern electrical and electronic equipment. So, computers, airconditioners, water coolers, printers et all run work on solar power. The connection with the grid ensures that on a day when solar power cannot be generated as the sunshine is not there, the place functions smoothly.

Location – It is around 10 – 12 kms from Mehrauli if one takes the short road via Chattarpur, Jaunapur to Gwal Pahari. The route via the Pahari from Gurgaon is circuitous though it is wonderful to see such empty roads so near Delhi.
How to get there -  It is better to go in one’s own vehicle. 
Highlight –  The plethora of solar equipments which are running and working. Nowhere can one get to see the entire range of solar power products. It is also an eye opener on what all is possible with solar enery.
Insider Tip –  It is an extremely educative experience. One can see the various means of harnessing solar power using more and more sophisticated technique. The scientists and directors working there are very practical and understand the limitation and cost implication. They understand the cost of generating solar power and the investment required. Will very firmly tell you if it is viable, should you venture into it. To a great extent, they are practical in the application of the technology. Go and Enjoy yourself, both the places at Gwal Pahari are well worth the trip!!!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Delhi's energy efficient buildings - TERI's RETREAT - an achievement in energy efficiency

The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) it was called Tata Energy Research Institute earlier has this remarkable energy efficient building called Retreat. Today, there are plenty of LEED certified buildings which manage this, but TERI’s RETREAT was one of the pionners. So what makes the RETREAT so special. Well read on....

Most of the buildings / homes we live in are virtual energy guzzlers. An energy efficient home contributes to a cleaner, healthier surrounding, adds positively to the environment, conserves resources and above all it is LIGHTER ON THE PURSE - it helps save quite a packet ; with no compromise on the degree of comfort.

Hard to believe, it has been so proved at TERI’s RETREAT (Resource Efficient TERI Retreat for Environmental Awareness and Training), situated at Gual Pahari, Gurgaon. This eco-friendly training complex a mere 35 minutes drive from Delhi is equipped with all modern amenities & its comforts- from fax, phones, airconditioners to computers & internet but at the same time conserves resources and is not detrimental to the environment. It reduces the use of fossil fuels,  there is little emission of pollutants, optimum use of water together with its recycle and recharge and reduced waste generation. The place can be called truly self sufficient in all its needs.  It is completely free from municipal services, is not connected to the city’s grid system (generates its own electricity),  provides for its own water requirements and all such infrastructure facilities.  As crunch points try this, building design and engineering has resulted in an overall load saving of 184 kW (peak), i.e. reduction in load to 96kW (peak) from a conventional high of 280 kW (peak). In rupee terms it is almost a saving of Rs. 26,86,400 p.a., assuming peak usage for 8 hours daily for 365 days at Rs. 5 per unit of electricity. The place uses sun’s rays, wind current, rain water and harnesses effectively natural conditions & seasonal phenomenon, to create a marvellous example of modern day sustainable living.

Electricity Connection - The building is run on a photovoltaic gasifier hybrid system. The 50 kilowatt gasifier runs on biomass fuel (dried leaves, twigs, firewood and crop residues converted into briquettes) with one kg biomass producing 1 unit. About 10 kW of solar energy is generated by the roof photovoltaic system. The building management system manages the power available from both the sources.  The daytime needs are met by the gasifier while the solar PV plant the night time requirements. Stand alone systems power the external lights and water pumps. This system runs all electricity based appliances including computers, airconditioners and photocopiers.

Passive design concepts resulting in reduced energy consumption - “Passive design concepts” in lay man’s language can be defined as design nuances which make optimum use of available knowledge of natural resources to reduce energy utilisation. The latticework for shading at both ends cuts off the summer sun and lets in the winter sun. As also the North South orientation of the building with shading devices which cuts off the summer sun and lets in the winter sun. The roof is insulated by using vermiculite concrete and china mosaic white finish.  This reflects the sun’s rays and reduces the roof load. The walls are insulated with Styrofoam which balances the temperature and prevents the walls from becoming heated in summers and becoming very cold in winters. The building is partially sunken into the ground.  This helps stabilize internal temperature. Skylights are designed in such a manner as to provide glarefree daylight in the conference halls, library and recreation hall.  I had to constantly pinch myself to believe that it was not the usual electric light but sunlight pouring into the place. After working under artificial lighting, it does take a while getting used to natural light. Landscaping alters the flow of wind while the deciduous trees planted on the southern side provide shade during summers while in winters they conveniently shed their leaves to allow for the warm bright winter sun. A smart approach indeed !  All this reduces the load by atleast 10 - 15%.   

There is more to this place, it will be telling if I put everything down here, go there take a look, come back convinced and use it in your home.

Location – It is around 10 – 12 kms from Mehrauli if one takes the short road via Chattarpur, Jaunapur to Gwal Pahari. The route via the Pahari from Gurgaon is circuitous though it is wonderful to see such empty roads so near Delhi.
How to get there -  It is better to go in one’s own vehicle.  
Highlight – The design concept of the building. The harnessing of natural resources to provide for light, air inside the building. The planting of trees to facilitate this.
Insider Tip – Study the use of energy efficient techniques and see what can be implemented in one’s own home. The range of technology available to reduce the use of electricity, water and treatment of sewage is mind boggling. If you are planning to construct your own house, this is the ideal place to check out before starting work. It is remarkable how this green landscape has been achieved in a pahari or mountainous area.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Delhi's Gandhi Nagar market - Asia's biggest wholesale market for apparel

The visit to Shanti Mohalla whipped up my appetite to visit the wholesale garment market, in Delhi - Gandhi Nagar. Touted as Asia’s largest whole sale ready made garment market, it is haven for garment manufacturers and retailers. Gandhi Nagar market is Asia’s largest wholesale market for apparel. There are rows upon rows of shops selling garments. Of course, there are plenty of other articles also which are sold. Gandhi Nagar has over 50000 shops of which around 10000 shops are of readymade garments. There are about 8000 shops in the market dealing exclusively in readymade garments. The number of small factory operating in and around this area servicing them is around 10,000. It provides employment to nearly 3,50,000 persons

The readymade garment business of nearly the entire Delhi is controlled from here. Barring the branded readymade garments, the local and others whet their appetite from here. Today, the areas where the business is carried on are Ashok Bazaar, Subhash Road, Ram Nagar, Shanti Mohalla, Kapada market, Old Seelamdpur Road and Raghuvarpura Main road tailoring material market. There are around 19 galis or lanes from the main road. These include Shyam Gali, Gurudwara Gali, Mahavir Gali, Durga Gali, Prem Gali, Arya Samaj Gali amongst others.

What one gets is products from all over the country. The traders have been shrewd and market savvy to establish links to procure wholesale ready made garments from across the country. The range caters to kidswear, teenwear, women’s wear and men’s wear. So there are specialists who procure Lucknowi Chikan and deal only in Chikanwear. There are those who work with Bengali products including gamchas, lungis, baby frocks, kidswear all made in Calcutta. Similarly garments made in Mumbai make it here as does that from Ahmedabad. Now the trend is also to products from overseas like Bangkok, China and Taiwan. This range is a boon for a retailer who offers a host of products from all over the country.

Not only that multi thread embroidery machines have been installed in homes, on terraces which carry it out on fabrics by the galore. Customisation and buying in small quantities is possible.

Location: Located yes amidst the crowded area of East Delhi and in true wholesale market parlance chaotic with handcarts, vehicles, bullock carts, rickshaws and of course people jostling for space. The easiest way to access the market is from the ITO Flyover, after crossing it to turn into the road towards Geeta Colony. On the main road itself there is a parking, the market can be accessed by foot by crossing the foot over bridge. I though took a slightly circuitous route via Jheel Mandi from the main Patparganj Road to be led into the Gandhi Nagar Market. This route can also be accessed to hit Shanti Mohalla and believe me is a simpler way of getting there!
Timings: The market is closed on Mondays. Timing morning 9:30 am to 7:30 pm evening.
Highlight: The retailer need not develop his own sources for each product but can in turn procure his entire inventory from the market. The rates are immensely economical as the traders pick it up bulk from the manufacturer and sell it wholesale.
Insider Tip: All garment designs which are “hot” or fast selling are sold here. The fabric is immaterial nearly everything from lycra halter tops to jeans, sherwanis, ghaghras are sold here. Apart from these sourcing hubs across the country and now overseas as well, a large number of garments are manufactured in and around the Gandhi Nagar area. There are tailoring units, fabricators and housewives who custom tailor these products. The units are spread across Shahdara, G T Road, Noida, Ghaziabad and more. It is these tiny tailoring units cum residence which also churn out a huge huge number of garments. The major or chalu item is jeans

Brave the traffic and you will be rewarded with some great bargain buys! 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A fabric sourcing paradise of Delhi - Shanti Mohalla

The name Shanti Mohalla is a misnomer for a fabric sourcing paradise. There is little peace as one finds ones way through the crammed bylanes or gullis jostling small auto trucks, cycle rickshaws, pull carts and honking two wheelers. The first view of the place is rows of tiny shops with some bolts of fabric which can be seen from the main road. Despair not at the small stock which is visible. Once inside the shop, one is led into a basement or a godown at the back or an emporium tucked in the bylanes and then one is awestruck by the collection. Feast your eyes on the sheer variety of fabric and the quantity that is stocked. The bolts and bolts of colours, some printed, some plain, some embroidered, some with bling on it and more. Incidentally, the main road resembles a bylane and there are around 18 gullis or smaller bylanes attached to it. It goes without saying each is filled with fabric to the core.  And they collectively do a business worth crores every day.

For many in the profession Nehru Place the sampling adda is now passé and most bulk buyers now head to Shanti Mohalla. The variety and range is mind boggling. In the opinion of regulars, “nearly all, almost all types of fabric can be bought here”. Delhi in recent times has managed to come with uncanny spots which are great places to pick up fabrics, knits, odds and ends accessories and of course handicrafts. So amidst traditional pockets of zardozi, sujni, kantha and hand embroidery there are equally fantastic places where one can pick up some fabulous fabrics. This is another addition to the growing list.

It is motley of 2000 – 3000 shops. Of the total number of shops nearly 90% work with cotton. Cotton is the fabric of choice, so it is available in all forms and all weaves. The maximum demand is during the summer season, winters are generally a lean period. About 18 - 20 shops work with other fabrics like silk, crepe, georgette and chiffon. The range available includes voil, cambric, chambray, checks, poplin, rayon, viscose, silk, denim, corduroys, jute, cotsilk, chiffon, georgette and crepe.

Location: To the uninitiated the market is situated near Gandhi Nagar near Old Seelampur. To be precise, after making it to the Swami Akshardham Mandir crossing, move into Mandawali, then to Laxmi Nagar and from there to what is popularly known as Jheel Chowk. From here, ask for directions and you will be guided via accessible roads to the Market. This is the easiest way to reach the market.
Timing: The Market is closed on Mondays and works roughly 10:30 am to 7:00 pm or more.
Highlight: Gully or Street No. 17 has 80 - 90 shops which deal in accessories and their repertoire includes threads, buttons, elastics, tapes and embroidery threads. The other is what is called Cut piece market - which has around 200 - 300 shops. They deal in cut pieces, fabric scraps and end pieces of fabrics.

Insider Tip: Unlike other markets where cloth is sold by meter, here plenty of cloth is sold by weight especially velvet and denim. The range of silk, embroidered fabrics is wonderful. Sheeting and grey is also available in plenty. Bargain, bargain and bargain as there are no fixed prices. Prices on bargaining can drop by more than 50% especially for stock lots. For fresh pieces, the prices are cheaper by nearly 25% when compared to the market. 

Apparel Markets in Delhi

Delhi may seem cosmopolitan, westernized as the capital of the country but if one were to look beneath the surface, it is still one urban / rural melting pot village. So it is not unusual to see wholesale cloth markets which seem to be sourcing points for the entire country and even the world. The sampling markets of Nehru Place where fabric for sampling for spring/summer and autumn/winter first make their entry. The market is also one which is increasingly catering to the domestic apparel makers and furnishing dealers. Apart from Nehru Place there are several other well known pockets which are manna for wholesale purchases. These range from fabric, apparel, accessories, jeans, denim, hosiery… it is a wonder how a city can actually develop such pockets. This starts another journey or series into these apparel markets in Delhi. Nehru Place has already been covered. Come join the journey of going through the bylanes of these markets.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Baoli at Red Fort - the lesser known baoli of Delhi

The Baoli inside the Red Fort is another interesting one. One has to enter the Fort and walk beyond the Museum. It is at a slight distance secluded and usually kept closed – to keep away mischief mongers and avoid nefarious activities. A special permission is required and one is usually accompanied by an official and the watchman then opens the gate to the baoli. This baoli is a complete contrast to the Agrsen one. It is like chalk and cheese. For one, it is built of yellow Ashley stone in contrast to the hard stone of the earlier one. This yellow is also a contrast to the red sandstone of the Fort. It is the design and the stone which historians and Archaeologist put the baoli as a Tughlaq period one (14th century).

Unlike the rectangular shape, this is an unusual octagonal one. Yes, it is a perfect shaped one! The octagonal double storeyed shaft is 6.5m in diameter and 14.27 m deep. There is also a tank next to it to which water flowed from the baoli. The number of steps just 30, on either sides are the passages and chambers. It is possible that this baoli fed the hamam inside the fort. Since the Red Fort is located on the banks of the River Yamuna, the source to the water is not very deep, hence the lesser number of steps. The baoli was handed over to the ASI in 2003 before which it was in the possession of the Indian Army. Considerable restoration work was required and this is one of the few baolis which is still functional. The water from it is used for the watering the gardens around the area. It has still not been considered as a source of supply to homes or the buildings around. The walls of the baoli have seen history written, from being used for leisure activities during the Mughal rule to being used as a prison (yes, freedom fighters were interned here) during the British rule (1757 - 1947).

Very different from the harsh bare Agrsen ki baoli, this one is soft and beautiful It is a lovely yellow structure set amidst a garden. The undulating water of the baoli, the beautiful River Yamuna flowing beyond, gentle breeze and laid back gardens, it must have been an era of gracious charm and laid back attitude.

Insider Tip – The Baoli is kept locked to avoid anti-social elements from making it their den and also to prevent any mishaps. Special request has to be made at the ASI’s office for someone to accompany with the keys. It is a nice place at a distance from the main Fort area. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Maharaja Agrsen ki Baoli or Ugrsen ki Baoli

Amidst the busy bylanes of Connaught Place, the Building of Tolstoy Marg visible in the far end, is the quiet Hailey Road. This is the Central part of Delhi, the busy commercial centre housing numerous establishments. It is surrounded by high rise building and multi storeys. There is just a wall on the outside, and most Delhites do not have a clue as to the significance of the baoli or even that it exists. Delhi is dotted with monuments all over and on the outside, it simply looks like another monument from the 14th century. Yes, we all just take it for granted! It is only on entering that one is dazed by the site. Endless steps which simply lead inside, reminds one of turrets except this goes down. The steps are broad, plenty of walking space on the sides and domes or tiers to count the levels inside. It is quite scary climbing down the steps as the sun dazzles and the steps seem to lead to a dead end down below. The Baoli has a breadth of 24 meters, length of 70 meters and a total of 109 steps. This is the official figure, though students and those running up and down put it at 153!!

As per the ASI records, at the level of the ground, the baoli measures 58.2 m X 13.71 m and at water level 39.6m x 7.5m. There are arched niches on both sides, home to pigeons now. The baoli has 5 tiers and one can see beautiful arches leading towards the centre where there is a platform and well.  At the end of the baoli (northern end) is a deep circular well with a 7.62 m diameter. There are traces of water here, probably because of the rains. There is also a roofed portion to sit upon. A mosque built of red stone at the top adds to the quiet charm.

There have been efforts on to revive the baoli but with borewells and tube wells being dug in the vicinity which are deeper than the baoli has resulted in the water being drawn to those wells. The slopes have been reversed so restoring it to its original glory is close to impossible.

Insider Tip – The Baoli is a gorgeous place to spend catching or basking in the afternoon sun in winters. It is frequented by students. It is quiet and peaceful far away from the hustle and bustle of the area. Climbing up and down the steps is also fun, I though didn’t relish the experience much. There is an occasional guard. Since it is isolated and lonely, it is better to go with a group and not be adventuorous and go alone.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Baolis of Delhi - Step Wells of Delhi

Delhi, with its modern malls and fast forward attitude now is steeped in History. So much is history that the Dilliwallahs take it for granted. Together with its host of Gummads, forts, tombs, makbaras are a chain of step wells which once fed Delhi’s growing population. The wells were so beautifully designed that they formed a network for carrying water from the Aravalli Hills to the plains of the Delhi. It was a catchment for tapping the running off of water from the Hills to the River Yamuna. Given the intensity of the heat in the plains of the Delhi, the wells formed the ideal cooling point. There are several Baolis as these step wells are called in Delhi.  Baolis have been a part of Delhi’s landscape since the 10th century or perhaps earlier. Delhi today has about 30 baolis, the oldest spanning a good 1000 years. Nothing is known about the origins of the various baolis, the ancientness deciphered on the basis of the structure standing around it now. It was built and re-built by successive rulers. It is possible that the origins may have even been several centuries earlier and the structure like we see today may have come up 500 years ago. The first or the oldest Baoli in Delhi is located in the Mehrauli area and attributed to the Tomar dynasty and is said to be built in the 10th century AD.

The baolis are grand structure built with a lot of thought and sound architecture. The baoli can be described as having two parts – a vertical shaft through which the water can be drawn akin to the concept of the well and the surrounding areas which is a composition of passageways, chambers and of course steps to go down.  The history of each of the baoli is unique and stands out. Today an effort has been made to specially revive them and the effort has been successful in a few of them. It is possible to see water in a couple of baolis. Khari Baoli meant the water in the well was khari or saltish. Panchkuian came to be named after the five wells. Ferozshah Kotla, yes the famous cricket stadium also has a well which has been revived. The unique concept of using water for heating and cooling using such systems is yet to be understood fully in all its glory.

The understanding of the working of the baolis is a revelation on water conservation and the focus on free availability of water. It brings to light the manner in which the resting places, watering bodies were available freely for a traveler to rest and quench his thirst. These water wells were community bodies for people to come together. More importantly it was a way of conserving water in the terrible terrible of heat of Delhi’s summer. The baolis provided shelter and relief against the scorching sun. Several of them were made with resting chambers on the side, where man and his tired beast – cattle or horse could rest before starting off on a journey again. It speaks volumes about the understanding of the principle of water conservation, water harvesting, harnessing and channelizing of precious rain water. These concepts, which we seem to be rediscovering now was the done thing then. Today, several of these wells cannot be re-charged or used as it was once done due to construction activities around the area. The rampant digging, building of high rise and basement has simply cut off all channels of water harvesting. Even as late as the 70s, several of the baolis were brimming with water as photos available with the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) show. Several of them have been successfully restored by the ASI. Work on several others is still in progress, documentation of several of them has been done, while that of many still remains. My quest will be to document some of these baolis here. I am not sure, how many I can successfully visit as most are out of the way places where safety is a concern and quite depressing unlike the markets and other such livelier places. But History needs to survive, so here goes my adventure on it., pub-8283208273141084, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0

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