Yesterday, being a Saturday, a few friends of mine decided to go for a drive outside Gurgaon. The big Q was where? So while having breakfast at Old Rao Hotel in Dharuhera we decided to hit Neemrana Baoli (steep well).
For those of you not familiar with the term, it is a well or a pond in which the water is reached by descending a set of steps. Usually all old step wells are covered and protected and often are of architectural significance. All step wells in India are perfect examples of the types of storage and irrigation tanks developed to cope up with seasonal fluctuations in water availability.
Most of the surviving step wells also served a leisure purpose as they provided relief from daytime heat. They usually consist of two parts, a vertical shaft or a well from which water is drawn and the surrounding passageways, chambers and steps which provide access to the well. The galleries and chambers surrounding these wells were often carved with elaborate details.
In Rajasthan, a region where water is scare, the step wells are perfect examples of this type of architecture. Neemrana’s step well is a 18th century, 9 storied, though dilapidated but is one of the best such examples. On each of the 9 floors there is a “ala’ (window) from where water flowed into the step well. It is about 110 kms from Gurgaon and was developed as a famine-relief project. Through a secret passage under the ground, the baoli is connected to the Fort to allow unhindered access to the Queen, however that passage has been blocked now.
Neemrana fort as viewed from the baoli
steps leading to the baoli
Rewari Steam Loco Museum, Rewari.
From Neemrana we headed back to Gurgaon but enroute stopped at another landmark, The Rewari Steam Loco Museum.
Rewari lies admist the hilly terrain and sandy dunes of Aravali and is about 60kms from Gurgaon. It was in 1873, when Rewari was first connected by rail with Delhi by the meter gauge which was later converted to broad gauge.
Rewari Heritage Steam Locomotive Museum, the only surviving steam loco shed in India was first established in 1893 and was the largest meter gauge loco shed. In 2001 it was converted to a heritage shed and in December 2002 it was converted into a museum. It houses some of India’s last surviving steam locomotives including the “Fairy Queen”, a Guinness Book Record holder as the oldest running steam engine. Most of the engines are in working order and have been part of movies such as Gandhi my father and Bhag Milkha bhag.
I also found some very interesting antique stuff in the museum such as a radio, a calling bell, a gramophone, an old telephone and a coach called Edward VIII.