Secrets of ancient Chanderi


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Baolis of chanderi - Madhya Pradesh, India

It is believed that once upon a time, the quaint city of Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh had 1,200 baolis. These man-made tanks were a common feature in India and they were built to serve as underground water resources, especially in arid regions, and played a significant role in water conservation. Generally baolis were segregated for supply of drinking water and for bathing and washing. 

Apart from their utilitarian function, some of these baolis were examples of India's architectural splendour and had social, cultural and religious significance. When water levels dropped, the steps helped people to draw water from the depths! The emergence of Chanderi as an administrative centre made its rulers build baolis all over the town.

Chakla Baoli

Chakla Baoli, one of the largest step-well in Chanderi, is a rectangular-shaped baoli constructed during the Khilji rule. According to the engraving at the entrance, this baoli was intended for the use of women of aristocratic families. At both ends of the step-well are two Rajput-style cenotaphs. 

Battis Baoli

Battisi Baoli, known as the largest baoli in Chanderi, derives its name from the 32 flights of step. It is four-storeyed high, 60 by 60 feet in size, with 32 bathing ghats. It was constructed in the late 14th century by Sultan Ghiyas-ud-Din Shah. It is said it once stood in a garden, justifying an inscription which exclaims: "if anyone visits this place, he will say "it is heaven". Legend has it that Battis Baoli will never run dry till there is water in the oceans!

Raja Rani Mahal Baoli

Raja Rani Mahal was the formal residence of the king of Chanderi. The palace includes two separate structures, one for the king and another for the queen. The two palaces were joined by exquisite passageways. Raja Rani Mahal was also used as a Shahi Hammam (place for royals to bathe). A baoli exists near the well and thus, it is named as Raja Rani Mahal Baoli. Once the pinnacle of splendour, this palace now stands alone in the middle of a developing town. 

Jageshwari Temple Baoli

Jageshwari Temple, one of the shakti peethas, was constructed by Raja Kirtipal. It is believed that the king had a dream in which the goddess instructed him to build a temple. She asked him to seal the temple for nine days for the construction of the deity's idol. For nine days, the inquisitive king couldn't stop himself from opening the doors. It is said as he opened the door, only the goddess's head had been completed, and hence, the remaining part of the idol could never be completed. On the left of the approaching path to the temple, there is a baoli named Jageshwari Temple Baoli. During dry months, the step-well becomes a dependable source of water supply, even today!

Apart from the above-mentioned baolis, there are several others like Moosa Baoli, Gol Baoli, Qaziyon ki Baoli and Phool Baug Baoli.