Sunday 7 May 2023

162. Shah Bagh Baoli, district Rawalpindi.

Baolis are step wells, that dotted the entire length and breadth of the Indian subcontinent, especially along the main highways. A large number of them still exist and many of them are architectural marvels. In Pakistan, too, many have been preserved and are in good condition. But unfortunately, a large majority of them are utterly neglected and either are totally lost to time and destruction, encroaching population, or taking their last breath. 

One such baoli which we have lost recently is a Shah Bagh Baoli, It is situated 10 kms to the east of Rawat, on Rawat-Kallar Syedan road. Kindly refer to the map given at the end of this article for the exact location. The name of the nearby town is Shah Bagh, but this locality is called "Raja Market". The baoli exists quite near to the road but it is not very visible. 

We found it with a little bit of difficulty because I thought it existed somewhere in the nearby Ghaznabad village. However, all that we found was an old but ordinary looking well, no steps or stairs were visible. On my enquiry, a person told me that it was indeed a complete baoli, but some neighbours filled those steps with a bulldozer as according to them it was posing some kind of danger. To our great disappointment, it was destroyed just two or three months ago. The baoli is located or rather I should say existed at  33°28'25.14"N,  73°17'56.92"E

The Shah Bagh Baoli, now just an ordinary looking well. (30.04.2023.)

The baoli exists in a large empty plot. (30.04.2023.)

No water, just garbage. (30.04.2023.)

Looking towards the road, steps too existed in the same direction. (30.04.2023.)

Google Earth imagery dated 25.11.2022, clearly shows the steps in the south-east direction of the well. 

All the information I could find about this baoli is the following:

Journal of Asian Civilizations

Preliminary Report on an Archaeological Survey in District Rawalpindi

"Shah Bagh Baoli, Ghazanabad Baoli of Shah Bagh is located in the mid of the Ghazanabad village, left of the road to Kallar Syedan, 10 kIn north of Rawat town. It measures 18 m and it includes a circular well 4 m in diameter and staircase of 35 steps, and it is well preserved. It is rectangular in shape, constructed of brick masonry laid in lime mortar. Traces of lime plaster are still visible. The structure is oriented east west, the well being sunk to west of the stepped access way. The steps are built in dressed schist stone slabs. Its structure is comparable to that of Kenthla Baoli near Shah Allah Ditta Caves in Islamabad, with the only exception that the Kenthla baoli constructed in limestone masonry. It is perfectly preserved. The baoli was used to quench the thirst of the travelers and their animals. Such baolis are frequently found along the ancient routes constructed during the Sher Shah Suri and Mughal periods."

So there is not much information about the history of this baoli. But we can make a rough guess that it was constructed sometime during the Mughal period. 

Now, as I mentioned earlier, just the well of the baoli is remaining. But the steps still exit buried under the dirt and can easily be cleared and restored. Perhaps it is not too late yet. Anyway, that's what happens when nobody is responsible for taking care of historical monuments and people do not realize the importance of preserving historical heritage. Its importance also lies in the fact that its location marks the old original route of the Mughal era road between Lahore and Kabul. Thus an important geographical point for people interested in history. 

Tariq Amir
May 07, 2023.

No comments:

Post a Comment