I came to know of a rare historical site not too far away from Mumbai – in a town called Badlapur. I got this information from a fellow wanderer and avid history buff – Amar Reddy.
Having seen his photographs of the well, I was keen to cycle to Badlapur and locate the well. I got the approximate location and directions from Amar, and went on an exploratory cycling ride to Badlapur.
Badlapur is located to the north east of Mumbai city, and the best way to reach there is either the local train to Badlapur railway station, or by road to Bandlapur via the Shilphata – Kalyan road and take the diversion on pipeline road towards Ambernath. Badlapur is just ahead of Ambernath.
Dawn breaks as I climb the hill at Shilphata road From Badlapur Village I go south along the northern banks of the Ulhas river to reach Devaloli, a sleepy little village with just about a dozen houses and a small school The well is located in an open field beside a clump of houses behind the Hanuman Temple in Devaloli
The well has a narrow band of steps leading down to the water level There are two compartments on either wall of the steps to hold lights A panel of exquisitely carved figures adorns the top of the archway at the far end
At the centre of the panel is the image of Lord Ganesha, the favourite elephant-headed God in Maharashtra To the right of Lord Ganesha is a figure that looks like a priest or a bramhin To the left of Lord Ganesha, the second figure with sword and shield seems like a warrior
A flower motif on the archway. This resembles the yellow colored flower that grows wild in these areas Another flower in this decorative carving on the arch On both sides of the steps, there are two carved animals whose heads have disintegrated but the tails indicate that they may have been monkeys
The water level was still quite good considering this was in March A small lion head carved on the arch One self photo for the record!
I spent time chatting with Mr. Vishay over a cup of hot tea served by his daughter in law. Their house is right next to the well He said that the well has been here since at least 3 generations that his family has lived here. He did not know about its origin As I headed back, I noticed that the only sign in the village was this school that was just a small little tiled roof hut that could barely accommodate a few kids
I met one shepherd family that was tending to their sheep He knew of the well, but could not shed any light on any additional info His father, wearing an impressive “pagdi” was curious why I would cycle over 120 kms just to see a well
They showed off the latest addition to the herd – a baby goat! As I reached Badlapur village, I noticed a pond full of bright red water lilies It was already past noon when I reached Ghansoli from the climb up and down Shilphata, and I had the pleasure of downing a few glasses of cool Neera
The cycling route from Andheri to Badlapur and return is in the map below: