“Where is the bawri?” I ask a group of men playing cards on the road. I am at Fatehpur, a large town in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan and searching for a nearly 400-year-old stepwell, locally known as bawri.
“You’re standing at the entrance to the bawri,” drawls one of the men.
I look at where I am standing and then behind me. All I can see is an arched entrance and garbage beyond that. Heaps and heaps of garbage.
“This is the bawri?” I ask in disbelief.
Loud, raucous laughter erupts from the group. “This used to be a bawri. It used to contain water, now it only has garbage. Therefore, it is kachre ka bawri (or a well of garbage). Why have you come to see this kachre ka bawri?” says another man in the group.
More laughter, this time mocking and derisive, as I look on in horror and recall all that I had read about the bawri or stepwell in Ilay Cooper’s book.
It’s quite amazing, you know, of the things one notices, but does not really see. Take for instance the subject of this post. I must have passed it a countless number of times, glancing at it idly but mostly ignoring it. You might have noticed it too, if you are travelling on the Lalbaug flyover towards Byculla, which looms up about 100 metres before the exit on your left.
That day, when I was passing by this structure I felt I was seeing it for the first time. And indeed I was for the slender and elegant clock tower glowed in the mid-morning winter sun in spite of the very obvious look of neglect that it had and stones blackened due to pollution.
The Clock Tower at the entrance to Jijamata Udyan and photographed from the Lalbagh flyover
Situated at the entrance to the Jijamata Udyan (formerly known as Victoria Gardens and also known as Rani Baug) and among trees, this beautiful clock just begs to be explored. When I attempted to do just that, I found that it is closed to the public with a several “Keep Out” signs placed all around. There is no information board on the clock tower and I had to be content walking around the barrier erected and look at the details through my camera lens. And what did I find? Continue reading →