The Chashma-e-Dilkhusha (the spring which pleases the heart) had started looking dirty and causing pain to not just history lovers but also to believers of this baoli’s ‘medicinal properties’.
The only baoli (step well) to still hold water in Delhi, it was built by Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya in 1321-22.
A few months ago, this almost 800-year-old structure at the Nizamuddin Dargah was revived as part of the phase I of the conservation-restoration project.
This is an excellent example of how things can be turned around in a positive way if the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) complies with its avowed work — protection and conservation of heritage monument, that too without drawing the ire of local residents.
Five perennial fresh water underground streams that feed the step well were also discovered during the ongoing conservation work at the 14th century structure.
The ASI and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in partnership with civic agencies CPWD and MCD is carrying out the conservation work.
Restoration work had become inevitable after a portion of the baoli had collapsed in July 2008 bowing to the pressure of sewage flowing in from adjoining houses.
Work entailed clearing the baoli of all rubbish to its original depth of 80 feet for the first time in 800 years.
Side by side, work went on to restore the wall that had given away and ‘stop’ pollution of the water body.
Director General (ASI) KN Shrivastava has acknowledged that unlike earlier unsuccessful attempts to clear the baoli, community participation and cooperation by the Dargah Committee bore fruit this time.
Phase II would start from November and would involve work to strengthen the structure to ensure no further collapse takes place.