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. 

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