Sunday, March 18, 2007

An Extraordinary Well

Our prowl around Delhi with Nigel Hanklin turned up some surprising revelations. Some of which helped remind us that the modern day has no exclusive claim on art, inventiveness, science or creativity. Sure, we know all that, but sometimes it requires something to be in our face to understand it.

We paused for a stop at a low brick wall in the shade of a large tree, then walked around to one end of the wall, ascended a few steps and were presented with this rather odd view, looking down into this structure with a small green pool at the bottom. Its scale can be gauged by the figures in the top right hand corner. I exhausted all ideas about what this structure was before Nigel revealed that it was in fact a well. Albeit a very large one. Once filled to within about eight feet of the top. But which had in fact been only about a third full for most of its life, as the lighter, less weathered brickwork shows. In fact the water level was most consistantly at the ledge above the largest and lowest arch at the far end. Steps at one end descend to this depth. It still eludes me as to why a well would be build with the arches and interior architectural decorations if they were to spend all their life under water.

As it turns out modern Delhi has put so much pressure on the water table that the well is nigh on empty, the current small pond revealing the depth of the table. But that earthen mound of centuries old silt covered in weeds must be ripe for an excavation, surely. As a kid I used to watch people excavating old wells, of the more traditional kind, around the goldfields of Otago, pulling out old bottles and crockery. What would a 3-4 century well of this size reveal?


KS said...

Hello!!! Its interesting that your chronicling all of them travel accounts.. Being an Indian, I found it rather flattering that Delhi's on this page.. Not that I stay in Delhi, but then yeah, its our capital for God's sake..

On another note, have you been to other places in India? Rajasthan? Calcutta? IMHO, theyre far more pregnant with memoirs from the past than Delhi is...

Best Regards,

Pickled Eel said...

Sadly I have only scratched the surface of India. But even Delhi has its treasures and so far the diary extracts have focused on Nigels tours. I have some remarkable experiences from Mumbai and Hyderabad. I loved each place and was made very welcome there by all I had dealings with.

Thanks for the visit and the note.

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