City Monument – Agrasen ki Baoli, Hailey Road
The well of solitude.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Amid the business towers and residential apartments of the Colonial-era Connaught Place, this 14th century baoli or ancient step-well, is flanked on both sides by niches, chambers and passageways, and the 104 stone steps descending into the well’s dried-up base, have three levels.
It is not certain who built it, though some credit it to a king called Agrasen; hence the name.
As you enter, you will see a mosque on one side. Initially, you will hear the cooing of hundreds of pigeons. But as you walk down the stairs, the silence deepens, the city skyline disappears and the daylight fades away.
This was a reservoir, as well as a summer refuge, for heat-stricken citizens living in pre-Lodhi times. As the water level receded each summer, the people would seek a cool retreat in the baoli’s lower reaches. There was water (and filth) here until 2002. Boys swam, lovers threw wish-making coins… and the depressed jumped.
But the popularity of this baoli, spanning 60 metres in length and 15 metres in width, has evaporated with its water.
Its solitude is remarkable but that is a pity in some ways. Here is a beautiful relic that has survived in a time capsule and is holding its own against urbanisation, and yet its magnificence lies unacknowledged.
Where Hailey Road, near KG Marg, Connaught Place Time 9am-5pm Nearest Metro Station Barakhamba
Awesome Mayank, How do you unearth places wich we had right under our noses for the whole time but were unaware of, Lajawaab!
maaaaaannnnnnnn gaye ustaad ji,aap ko to.v awl r blind ,i think yaar.hum saale sab andhe hain,hahahahaaha.mind blowing,superb.masaalaahhhhhhhhhh:).aankhein ho to mayank jaisi warna na hooo 😀
I want to go visit this place one day! Thanks for sharing this Mayank.
Have you posted about this place previously, or is there another stepwell in Delhi that I am remembering?
This place certainly deserves to be better known.
Peter, it’s the first time I wrote on it.
You are awesome writer cum snapsnatcher. After reading your blogs and viewing photographs i m ur fan really man…….
Thank you for showing me a treasure that I passed by many many times in the couple of years I lived in Delhi. Though I did see the stonework from a distance – i never had a clue what a masterwork lay just a few footsteps away. Very zen-ish if you ask me – your post is. And yes, from a distance – in Berlin, Germany, i am better able to appreciate what I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate living in Delhi.
You take wonderful photographs. I hope to keep logging in and take a few breaths of the Delhi air (!!) every time i log in.
Yet another great find. MAS I think you have enough material to publish something in the non-online media too!! Go for it. Best wishes.
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