Of Stepwells and CP – Agrasen ki Baoli

We’ve all roamed about the circles of Connaught place and a few of us have surely been into the labyrinthian wonder that is the Jantar Mantar. But there lies a frequently missed architectural delight right next to the Jantar Mantar, on Haley Road known as Agrasen ki Baoli. With the very many such structures the lie still and weathered, the Agresen ki Baoli is one of the best in terms of ancient architecture and also very well maintained. That later is a result of it being a protected monument by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958. As the name suggests, it is a baoli which means a well or more specifically a step well or a water temple.

The step well has 103 steps that take you down to the now dried up well. There are arched niches on the sides of each of the three levels, the bottom most of which was submerged under water. Today one can go around all around the bottom level as there is no water and you can simply walk along the sides. It is something to wonder why the well was built with niches and pathways even on the floor where was supposed to be underwater. But that isn’t all that is mysterious to the baoli.

Many believe that the monument has otherworldly elements attached to it. It was believed that the water in the well turned black and had a certain effect on the people that came near it. The water would call upon the visitors and ask them to make a sacrifice of their life and the ghosts of such people still haunt the place. Unknown to us, this might not have been true in the real sense but there must have been incidents of drowning, considering it is such an old structure. The eeriness of the place only adds to why people believe that the monument is haunted. Going into the lower levels becomes extremely quiet and one can only hear the echos of their own footsteps which makes it a little unsettling for some.

Although there is no certainty as to who built the well in the first place it is commonly known to have been built by Maharaja Agrasen, the great king of the Agrawals during the era of the Mahabharata. The well was then built again in the 14th century by the Agrawal community at the time when the great kingdom of traders was set up in northern India.

History and ghosts apart, if you are a fan of great architecture and like the calm of old monuments within the hustle-bustle of the city then Agrasen ki Baoli is a place you must visit. It can easily be accommodated in your weekend trip to CP and followed up with the customary visit to Wenger’s.

Entry free.

Where: Hailey Road, Connaught Place, New Delhi

Nearest Metro Station: Rajiv Chowk

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