City Hangout – Best Reading Spot, Agrasen ki Baoli
Book lover’s space.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
One can’t run short of words in praise of Agrasen ki Baoli—a stone step well so beautiful that it has often appeared even in Bollywood movies. The well’s 14th century stone stairs plunge deep down against a backdrop of Connaught Place high-rises. Rather like watching two time zones come together.
But the place ought to be also exploited for providing one of the most beautiful reading spots in our capital.
As a great place for reading, the step well is lined on both sides with niches built along the well’s various levels. In the old days, heat-stricken citizens would survive brutal summer afternoons by taking shelter in the niches—with a breeze from well water keeping them reasonably cool. As summer progressed, the water level would of course fall, obliging Delhiites to retire to niches at the lower levels.
Nowadays the well is dry but does attract many visitors, mostly lovers and Selfie seekers. You yourself might want to read your new novel ensconced in a niche.
The other morning a young man was spotted sitting cross-legged inside a niche with a copy of Elif Shafak’s The Forty Rules of Love. It’s possible he was merely posing for an Instagram photo.
Whatever. Reading in these old niches has the effect of expanding rather than constricting your urban soul: Liberation from the mind-numbing distractions of the city.
Finding one’s niche