Satpula is a medieval structure located in a posh area of south Delhi. Satpula or seven bridge was constructed in 1343 AD by sultan Muhammad bin tughlaq of tughlaq dynasty .The wall like structure was built to harvest the low hill arid regions of Jahanpanah city. The structure was mainly built as a dam but it also provided the newly built forth city of delhi a defense wall.
Year 1334 -35 proposed serious threat of rebellion against tugHlaq emperor. Sultan Muhammad bin tughlaq was on his south India war campaign which resulted in high taxes to cover the war expenses. Further droughts were also a big problem causing further misery of people. Urgent solution was needed to counter the situation and hence Satpula was constructed to counter this situation.
Satpula is located on the west side of Jahanpanah city . Dam was built to tap the rain water, stream aiding Yamuna, water from Aravali hills and control it as required. The water was then drained in a catchment area known as barapulla nala to maintain continuous supply of water to both crops and population of the city.
Need of having Satpula—
City of Jahapanha was located on arid areas near low hills of aravli range. Being located on eastern side of thar desert water resources were very limited for jahapanha city . Proper network of water was needed to ensure continuous water supply across the city. Yamuna river and rain water was only resources available to cater to the city’s need. To tap rain water from aravlli hills and water of Yamuna Satpula was constructed
Satpula was not only used as irrigation system but being a part of Jahanpanah wall it was of strategic importance too. Satpula was located on western defense wall of jahanpanaha city making it a crucial place of defense. Satpula have pavilion on its both ends used as weaponry storage. The second level sluice bays on both banks lead to arched corridors having small openings which were used by archers of defending the city from attacking forces . The gates of the sluices were closed as a defensive measure against possible attack in the dry season when no storage remained in the dam.
Working of dams-
The Satpula across the stream was built as a gate controlled weir. The total length of the structure is 79.5 m (261 ft). It has been constructed in stone masonry. The eleven bays of the weir controlled by sluice gates cover a total length of 54.5 m. These eleven bays consist of eleven water tunnels . These are located at different levels, with seven main bays at the lowest level. The balance two additional bays on each bank, on the far east and west sides, are at a higher level. The control arrangements seen now are in the form of gate grooves to operate vertical slide gates. When built, wooden vertical sluice gates made of heavy boards were operated by a rope and pulley arrangement to control flow of water; the wooden gates have since disintegrated but the gate groves are visible in each bay. The water was then drained in a catchment area known as barapulla nala to maintain continuous supply of water to both crops and population of the city.
Current situation and Restoration-
Just like other monuments of Delhi satpula’s condition is also very bad. Encroachment around the complex is the main problem . Lake complex is often used as sanitation area by slums of panchsheel vihar ,khirki village and huaz rani . Due to lack of proper security fort is also used for illegal purposes such as drugs and prostitution.
However the Archaeological Survey of India has recently carried out restoration works of the Satpula. This restoration now permits access to the wide parapet of the bridge to fully view the impressive engineering structure. The restoration works carried out by ASI, for specially identified monuments, is in sync with the slogan ‘Welcome to Historical City of Delhi’ adopted by the Commonwealth Secretariat for the 2010 Common Wealth Games .The restoration works of the Satpula is at an estimated cost of Rs 20 lakhs (US $ 40,000) for conservation of the monument to highlight its structural elegance by improving its overall view, enhancing environmental aesthetics and its illumination. The Delhi Development Authority has also invited reputed NGOs for the restoration of the water body at this site. The ASI owns the monument, whereas the water body is under the control of DDA. As per the DDA, this water body is being restored by The Braj Foundation