Resource centre on India's rural distress

Step-wells, done well -Aasheesh Sharma

Restoring baolis can help combat the Capital’s water problem, as well as conserve an age-old engineering marvel

They say you cannot walk more than a few hundred yards in Delhi without colliding with history. Along with the hundreds of monuments lining up the national capital are some home-grown marvels of indigenous engineering. These stepwells, or baolis, commissioned by the erstwhile rulers of Dilli not just helped propagate the message of water conservation, they also served as rendezvous points for the classes to mingle: it was here that washermen scrubbed the robes of the nobility and women caught up with each other as they waited to replenish their vessels with water from an underground spring.

It comes as no surprise then that heritage activist and educator Vikramjit Singh Rooprai chose baolis as the subject of his first book for a series on Delhi’s heritage (Baolis, Niyogi Books). "The broader theme was Delhi’s heritage and I also considered beginning with forts and mosques. But then I decided to go with baolis, keeping in mind the water scarcity that we are facing these days," Rooprai tells MAIL TODAY.

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