Agrasen ki Baoli
Not-so-popular historical site Agrasen ki Baoli amid high-rise buildings and residential apartments of Hailey Road (New Delhi) is in absolute contrast to the modern world around and it dates back to the Mahabharat era.
This baoli (step-well) was originally built by the mighty ruler Maharaja Agrasen, then rebuilt by the Aggrawal Community in 14th century considering being the descendants of the Maharaja Agrasen. Agrasen ki Baoli now stands built in Mughal architecture style, suggesting that it was renovated in Tughlaq period. The Baoli is now under ASI (archaeological Survey of India) which designates it as a Protected Monument.
The Baoli, 60 metres long and 15 metres wide with 104 steps, was constructed to store and preserve Rain-water and groundwater. Because of its renovation in Tughlaq period, the Baoli have Mughal Architecture designs.
The Baoli was full of water till the 70s, but urbanization around, the water level went down and a dry reservoir was all left behind. But in 2002, as the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) cleared three metres of debris from the stepwell, the bricks at three to four places in the cleared levels fell off and groundwater began gushing in.
The digging had reopened mouth of water sources to the stepwell. The water surface reflects upper arches of the Baoli. So, after several years, Agrasen in Baoli has started looking like it originally was – a reservoir of clean water.
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Agrasen ki Baoli is accused of taking many lives. There are historical rumors about a number of suicides taking place there. The Baoli is said to be filled with Black water once, which attracted the depressed hearts towards itself and hypnotized them to jump into the water.
People believe that evil spirits reside here. Some people have reported strange noises here. It is considered as one of the most haunted places in India, often called ‘Baoli of the unseen’.
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Photo of Agrasen Ki Baoli by Raghu Rai
Raghu Rai (one of the most popular photographers of India) in 1971 captured a photograph of Agrasen ki Baoli, titled “Diving into Ugrasen Ki Baoli, a 14th century monument“. The photograph shows the Baoli full of water and a young boy jumping from the wall to dive into it. Newly constructed Hans Hotel and other high-rises on Tolstoy Marg can be seen in the background, above the baoli.
26 years later, Sam Miller (Author of 2008 book Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity) visited Agrasen ki Baoli with that photograph in his hand. The locked Baoli was opened by an unenthusiastic watchman. Mr. Miller showed the photograph to that watchman to know if he had seen the picture before. The watchman’s reply left him stunned.
Turns out, the young boy in the photograph was actually the watchmen himself. Bagh Singh (the watchman) had kept a clipping from some magazine and showed it to Mr. Miller. The book has a photo of a cigarette-smoking Bagh Singh holding the clipping with Agrasen Ki Baoli in the background.
Visiting Agrasen ki Baoli
- Hailey Road, KG Marg (KG Road), New Delhi, Delhi—110001
- Visiting time: 9 am to 6 pm.
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Featured Image: ©JaydeepSaha