Kyun mata-e-dil ke lut jaane ka koi gham kare, Shahr-e-dilli mein to aise vaqiye hote raheThe national Capital is like ‘Phoenix’ – a city which has been destroyed several times but has revived itself every time from the ashes. The city still holds impressions, in the form of structures/monuments, of all its bygone eras. While some of the structures have been revived over the time, few have completely lost their identity. One such forgotten structure is the Baoli, or stepwell, which once existed in the Lodi Garden, but got lost in colonial landscaping.A first monument list created by Maulvi Zafar Hasan, an archaeologist with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), worthy of preservation in 1916, refers to the Baoli in need of attention. Hasan’s list features 1,317 buildings in the Capital, of which 174 are currently protected by the ASI. While Hasan did not include the Baoli in his list, but he has written about it in his book ‘Monuments of Delhi, Lasting splendour of the Great Mughals and Others’.”To the North-East of the Sheesh Gumbad are the remains of a garden, the four walls of which, brick built, are broken in several places. The double-storeyed entrance is in no better condition. To the south of the latter is a mosque also ruined and neglected. The Baoli in front of the entrance outside the enclosure is in the same condition. In the center of the garden is a small brick-built enclosure furnished with arched openings, apparently intended for a tomb but now containing no grave.”The Baoli and the mosque came under the’Khairpur’village area back then. In 1936, Lady Willingdon, wife of the then Viceroy of India, got the villagers relocated and landscaped the garden which was then known as’Lady Willingdon Park’. It is believed that the Baoli was also landscaped around that time. But, its name was changed to Lodi Gardens post-independence.”There are such Baolis lost in time, most important being the ‘Palam’ and ‘Khari’Baolis, but we may never be able to unearth them due to the dense settlement around them. However, we should still try and revive this Lodi Garden Baoli. If the ASI and the government decide to restore these structures, they would attract a lot of visitors,” says Vikramjit Singh Rooprai, a heritage activist.A total 25 Baolis have been identified by historians in Delhi, of which 11, including Hauz Khas Enclave Baoli are not accessible to the public. Of these 25, 12 can be easily revived.
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