GUJRAT: The centuries-old baoli (steppedwell) in Kharian is being rehabilitated by the archaeology department.

The project to restore the site had been approved by the Punjab government on the demand of the civil society for which Rs10 million had been allocated in the current fiscal year.

Excavation at the site is under way and at least 25 feet have been dug so far, while experts say the depth of the well may be between 70 and 80 feet.

Baoli is a Persian term that means a well with steps leading to the bottom to fetch water. Such wells were developed centuries ago along the main routes of army convoys and passengers on elephants, horses and other animals. It used to be a source of water consumption at a time when there was no means to pump it up to the ground level.

The baoli in Kharian was built in the era of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and its steps carved out of stone. It was divided into different chambers right from the start of underground water table to keep the water cool in the summer season.

Muhammad Imran, an assistant director in the archaeology department, said that excavation was being carried out manually to avoid any damage to the original structure of the site.

The entrance to the baoli had been restored to its original shape and one arch also opened. The exact number of arches would be known after the digging was complete and a steel railing also installed to protect the site from any future damage.

The two-kanal and 14-marla site had been a victim of neglect for long, as a number of locals had encroached upon its various portions, which had been vacated by the district administration last year.

Later, the civil society demanded the Punjab government restore the site to its original form as a tourist attraction.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2021

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