Hazrat Nizamuddin Baoli was built in AD 1321-2 and is the only surviving step-well in Delhi which still holds water, considered sacred by the millions of annual pilgrims. The vaulted southern arcade of the Baoli is contemporary to its Tughlaq construction as are possible the two domed pavilions on either side of its northern edge. The western side of the Baoli has three monuments – the Chini Ka Burj, Gogabai Tomb and the Lal Chaubara while the eastern side has the vaulted corridor leading to the Dargah. The Baoli conservation is an example of a complex urban conservation project with multiple requirements that could only be addressed by a multi- disciplinary team and partnership of several government agencies.
Following the July 2008 collapse of the Baoli’s eastern wall, there was concern both for the structural stability of standing portions as well for the well being of the 84 people who resided atop the southern terrace. To safeguard the monument, the ASI served legal notices of eviction on all18 families. The unsanitary and pathetic living conditions of these families were further worsened by the threat of structural collapse and as a first step temporary shoring was installed to ensure stability. The AKDN team initiated dialogue with the residents and then on the behalf of the residents with concerned government agencies culminating in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi providing alternate plots to the families in 2010, on which AKDN built residential units.
In this first successful relocation carried out in Delhi in several years it was ensured that the families continue to reside adjoining one another to maintain community bonds and support. As in any historic settlement, urban streets form a significant component of the urban character. The Baoli road forms a crescent beginning and ending at Lodhi Road. Both directions of the road meet at Baoli Gate which is the next important entry road to the dargah. The junction in front of the gate was crowded and encroached upon by the vendors selling offering of flowers, sweets and chadars. Millions of pilgrims from worldwide locations use these major streets annually to access the religious complexes in the Basti. The improvement and upgradation works carried out at the Baoli street included replacing of the broken tar road with neatly laid out concrete blocks and maintaining the appropriate road slope levels. Additionally, the streets were provided with electrical poles, water-points revived and re-designed as well as laying out the sewage lines along the streets.