International philanthropic organisation Aga Khan Trust for Culture, in collaboration with the Urdu Academy, is hosting a play of historical significance in Delhi next month
The play seeks to highlight how masons succeeded in constructing the baoli for revered Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya.
Boasting of a 700-year-long living culture Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti seems to have forgotten, the children of this area are trying to revive its historic importance through this play. Forty children from the basti will perform and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit will be invited to the event.
According to director Nadeem Khan, the play will propagate the Sufi message of love, tolerance, pluralism. It will basically tell how masons, who were building the fort at Tughlaqabad for Tughlaq king Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq during the daytime, worked at night to construct the baoli for Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya.
“During the inspection, the King found that the masons were not working with the same enthusiasm anymore in completing his fort. Therefore, he asked for the reason. On finding out that they were working at night for the baoli and were sapped of energy, he was furious. He wanted them to concentrate on his fort, but since Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya was a revered soul, the King could not ask the masons to discontinue the noble project. In order to put a spanner in the works, the King purchased oil from all the sellers in Delhi. The masons could not work in the dark for lack of oil. The Sufi saint advised the masons to use grass and sprinkle water on it. He said chirag khud par khud jal jayega. It lit up and the masons succeeded in completing the baoli!”
The baoli still holds water. In fact, the water levels have increased significantly following the recent restoration work by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. “Earlier, the locals used to dump garbage but the Agha Khan Trust for Culture intervened and built jalees. So now the place is spic and span,” says Nadeem.
Over the past two years, employees of the Agha Khan Trust for Culture and the Urdu Academy have worked as a cohesive team to impart training to children and youth of the basti in achieving theatrical excellence. This has also resulted in a significant increase in confidence and overall development of the children.
At present, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture is implementing a major urban renewal project in the Hazrat Nizamuddin basti which seeks to improve the quality of life of the people living in the area. In addition to the cultural revival of the whole area, the project has distinct conservation, health, education, vocational training, sanitation and urban improvement components.
Water from the baoli is considered holy by millions of pilgrims from different religious denominations who visit the basti every year to pay their respects at the dargah. The baoli is a step well which has underground springs and pure water.