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Hidden for over 800 yrs,wonders of Nizamuddin ki Baoli out in the open

When the Hazrat Nizamuddin ki Baoli was cleaned to its original depth for the first time in 800 years and given a facelift,the process threw open two interesting revelations.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
April 24, 2009 12:57:00 am

Conservation process reveals a blocked passage and seven streams that feed the well

When the Hazrat Nizamuddin ki Baoli was cleaned to its original depth for the first time in 800 years and given a facelift,the process threw open two interesting revelations. A blocked passage,possibly used by Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya to access the baoli (a stepped well) from his adjoining mosque,and a well with seven streams are no longer hidden from the public eye.

The 14th-century baoli is a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Built by Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya,the baoli is being conserved as part of the ‘Humayun’s Tomb-Sunder Nursery-Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti Urban Renewal project’ by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC),in partnership with the Central Public Works Department,the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the Aga Khan Foundation.

An urgent need to conserve the baoli was felt after portions of its walls collapsed in July 2008 and it was noticed that the water had contaminated badly with sewage flowing in.

“Waste disposal from adjoining houses and wuzu (ablutions) water from the mosque drained into the baoli,making the holy water worse than pesticide. This is the only baoli in the Capital that hasn’t dried up in over 800 years,as it has springs feeding the well inside it,” said K N Srivastav,Director General,ASI.

Ahmad Nizami,one of the chief pirs of the Dargah Committee,explained: “It has been noticed that if left untouched for 48 hours the water rises up to a significant level on its own. The water is considered holy by pilgrims.”

“The conservation of the baoli following its partial collapse required a multi-disciplinary approach,using state-of-the-art technology to carry out scientific analysis and with significant support from the local community. Over 15,000 man-days by skilled craftsmen were required to rebuild the collapsed portion and remove the garbage accumulated over centuries,” said Ratish Nanda,project director,AKTC. A filtration system will be put in place now to ensure the water is cleaned of impurities.

“The repair work was taken up following significant community participation and support,besides lengthy discussions with the Dargah Committee,” Nanda added.

The AKTC has sanctioned nearly Rs 1 crore for the project,of which Rs 40 lakh has already been spent.

Nearly 18 families occupy the terrace of the baoli. For its conservation,the AKTC and the MCD will relocate them. “The money to be spent on the relocation — Rs 35,000 per family — will be given to the MCD,while other charges to rehabilitate them will be borne by the trust,” said Nanda.

“We will work with the affected families even after they are relocated and ensure they get employment,their children get good education and their lifestyle improves,” he added.

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