Sun, stone and water: Rajon ki baoli, Mehrauli

A hidden subterranean treasure in the wilderness of Mehrauli Archaeological Park, this 'baoli' showcases a stone structure built for water; cool & serene under the hot Delhi sun.
'Rajon ki baoil' in Mehrauli Archaeological Park, Delhi (Source: IWP) 'Rajon ki baoil' in Mehrauli Archaeological Park, Delhi (Source: IWP)

'Rajon ki baoli' also known as 'Rajon-ki-bain', is a picturesque 'baoli' or stepwell dating back to 1506 AD. With three storeys completely below ground level, it appears to emerge and unfold as one gets closer. The cool stone structure stands serene and silent under the blistering Delhi sun. Generally thought to be a stepwell for kings ('raja' means king), it's name is actually derived from 'rajbirs' or 'mistris'--the term for masons--that it got in the early 20th century due to the presence of masons who had moved in permanently into the deserted mosque. Believed to have been built in the Lodi era by Daulat Khan, the enclosure also includes a mosque and a tomb.

Deep steps lead down to the water from the North, while the East and West sides are enclosed by high walls with narrow sides that include a platform to walk on, and twelve pillars each side that encase arched niches. A rectangular shaped building, it consists of a deep well shaft that can be accessed through the large staircase. An open niche in the south wall acts as a passage and joins the well to the water tank. Alcoves in the walls used for burning lamps suggest that that it must have been a place for social, cultural gatherings, a public space frequented even during night times. 

 

 

Hiding in plain sight: An ornamental stepwell, this 'baoli' would have been a source of dependable groundwater in water scare Mehrauli built on the rocky Aravalli's (Source: IWP)

The adjoining side arms of the 'baoli' have numerous arched recess that provided shade and rest to visitors. It would have been a place for the people to sit and talk, in a cool environment. (Source: IWP)

Medallions and stone carvings enhance the beauty of the stone structure. (Source: IWP)

Water can still be seen at the bottom of the well, along with plastic and other garbage.(Source: IWP)

Take a closer view of the arched alcoves that border the octagonal well as seen through the bars of the safety cover on the shaft roof. All the levels are interconnected by a steep staircase. (Source:IWP)

More than 60 steps lead to the bottom of the water tank. (Source: IWP)

A barely visible blue 12-pillared canopy tomb, typical of the Lodi era, is in the enclosure. An inscription on the 'chattri' bears the date A.H. 912 (A.D. 1506), but the the grave is unmarked (Source: IwP)

 

 

 

How to reach

'Rajon ki baoli ' lies in the Mehrauli Archaeological Park, Delhi, whose entrance is opposite the Lado Serai bus stop. The closest metro station is 'Saket', and both bus and auto services are availble from there. Delhi is connected by rail, air and road to all parts of the country.

View more pictures of 'Rajon-ki-baoli'.

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