Idgah Baoli Stepwell

Idgah Baoli Stepwell is located on the premises of the Qutb Shahi tombs in the Ibrahim Bagh (garden precinct), close to the famous Golconda Fort in Hyderabad, Telangana State, India.

The often-missed Idgah Baoli or stepwell, is in fact a massive monument built before most of the other things in the Qutb Shahi tombs. 

The Idgah Baoli is perhaps the grandest stepwell of all at Qutub Shahi Heritage Park built with hand-dressed granite stones with archway access on the south side. This baoli has a 2.8 million litres of water capacity that was revived.

In the marvellous garden of a stucco work necropolis of the Qutb Shahi tombs, it is a deep stepwell of dressed granite. While curvy flowy lines and stucco decorations are the norm in the tombs complex, the stepwell is all about straight lines and minimalistic design. Recently restored to the way it appears in archival images from 19th century by the Department of Archaeology and Museums, the effort has been aided by US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation. 

“It is probably one of the earliest structures here, along with the Idgah and might pre-date the necropolis. The other boalis (stepwells) are built on rocky outcrops. This one is built into the earth with huge blocks of hand-dressed stone blocks and masonry,” informs Ratish Nanda of Aga Khan Trust for Culture, which is working in coordination with the State government to restore the tombs complex.

The Qutb Shahi tombs is the royal necropolis of the Qutb Shahi or Golconda dynasty (1518-1687), which once ruled from the Golconda fort, and later founded Hyderabad in 1591. The tombs complex comprises nearly 100 structures, including tombs, gardens, pavilions, a Turkish bath (Hamam)and mosques. The site is currently being restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) in association with the Telangana Department of Heritage.

The site is becoming a major attraction for tourists thanks to its restoration by the AKTC. The Qutb Shahi tombs was historically connected to the Golconda fort, which was a walled-city before Hyderabad was founded in 1591. However, today, due to local encroachments on the site, the pathway connecting the fort and the tombs complex has been built upon.

The Qutb Shahi tombs site has six Baolis or stepwells. According to experts, the water bodies were all connected to the Durgam Cheruvu (lake) in Hyderabad historically. Unfortunately, the old water channels connecting the lake to the stepwells have been lost due to modern encroachments or ‘development’. Unlike the other stepwells, the Idgah Baoli was built with fully dressed granite stones, which gives the impression that it was built as a monument.

AKTC experts working at the Qutb Shahi tombs believe that the Eidgah and its Baoli in fact are the earliest buildings at the site. It is also believed that the Baoli was built for the Eidgah or public usage during Eid. The first major tomb in the necropolis is that of Sultan Quli, the founding king of the Golconda empire (1518-43). Originally from Hamadan in Iran, he came to India towards the end of the 15th century, eventually founding the empire. 

The Baolis in the Qutb Shahi tombs complex were all built at different times and stages by the kings (and others) who are buried at the site. Earlier excavations at the necropolis also found that a small informal settlement near the Hamam that predates the site.