Delhi has a lot to offer. From the chaos of Old Delhi’s lanes to historic centuries-old buildings to its vast gardens. There is another unique feature that makes India’s capital stand out – the baoli.
A baoli is a stepwell and was the main source of water for neighborhoods and kingdoms centuries ago. Each baoli had its own water-based purpose. Some were for storing drinking water, others were for bathing purposes. At one point, there were over 100 baolis spread across the city. With the rise of the British in the nineteenth century, however, many of these stepwells were abandoned or destroyed. Today, there are only 15 remaining in the city, many in poor condition.
Fortunately, many of these ancient treasures can be viewed up close, including the Rajon Ki Baoli.
Rajon Ki Baoli is a well-kept stepwell, located in the historic Mehrauli Archaeological Park. The sixteenth century structure was built during the city’s Lodi period and is considered to be one of the most elaborately designed baolis. Rajon means masons, and it is believed that the water stored were for drinking purposes for the masons in the kingdom.
Here are four reasons why you should include a visit to a baoli on your next trip to Delhi:
1. Baolis are a glimpse of history in India.
Baolis weren’t just pretty storage units for water. Families and communities convened here before praying at a nearby mosque or temple.
2. Baolis are architectural gems.
Despite having a simple purpose (to store water), baolis are elaborate structures. Rajon Ki Baoli, for example, extends four levels below the ground and features a series of symmetrical arches, corridors, engraved windows and staircases.
3. Some baolis are a slice of current life.
Some baolis are still in use today in Delhi, though not for drinking water. If you are lucky, you may find some youth dipping into the water during the summer.
4. Baolis provide a place for quiet reflection.
Though near a major attraction (Qutb Minar), Rajon Ki Baoli is a tranquil place, deep within the Mehrauli Archaeological Park, and just far enough from the noise and chaos of a nearby highway.