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| Last Updated:: 31/07/2017

Neglect turns stepwell’s healing waters into swamp













Famed for its healing properties, the water in the 800-year-old Gandhak ki Baoli in Mehrauli now lies stagnant and has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. 




The stepwell was built between 1210 and 1235 AD by Shams-ud-din Iltutmish, founder of the Delhi Sultanate. An Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)-protected monument, it now stands neglected with a part used as a garbage pit. 




Walk out of Qutub Minar metro station and enter the narrow lanes of Dargah Road in Mehrauli, and you reach an old gate surrounded by tea vendors with a board that says ‘Protected Monument’. 




Gandhak ki Baoli is a massive structure with 105 big stone steps leading to the water bed. The water in the well is rich in sulphur, thus the name Gandhak, and is known to heal skin diseases. Often locals can be seen dipping into the water despite the algae, garbage and mosquitoes. 




“My friends and I have been coming here to swim since we were kids. The water is dirty but it helps the skin,” says Mohammad Shamsuddin, 38. Over the years, as silt accumulated, attempts were made to revive it by the ASI in 2004-05. The water was recharged, but it needed more cleaning, as it was not potable. No arrangements were made to use the water though, leading to stagnancy.




Delhi has over 25 stepwells and eight lakes/water bodies, which if revived would resolve most of the city’s water shortage.