Central Delhi’s oldest monument, Agrasen Ki Baoli is one the best preserved baolis of Delhi. Located in the narrow Hailey Lane, off Hailey Road, near Connaught Place, this century old structure was brought into newer frames in the film PK.
If you are a first time traveller to Delhi, it might be a bit difficult to spot Agrasen Ki Baoli as it is hidden among the tall buildings residential societies on the periphery of Connaught Place. The old images of 1920s show vast expanse of open land around it.
The name confusion
There has always been confusion about the name as the red sandstone plaque outside the architecture says Ugrasen Ki Baoli. An old map dated 1868 at the National Archives of India in New Delhi names it as ‘Oojer Sain’s Bowlee.’ another ‘bowlee’ to the immediate north-west of Agrasen Ki Baoli is shown in the map. It seems with the rapid settlement and the urban expansion after 1911, this ‘bowlee’ or Baoli has disappeared.
This is basically an elaborate well with steps leading down to the source of water. Elaborate architecture, intricate design and rooms are also found in the structure which is well divided by a staircase. As the socio-ecological conditions prevailed during that time, the Baolis played the role of community places, specially for women. The lower levels offered escape from the cruel heat of Delhi’s summer months.
Agrasen Ki Baoli measures 58.52 metres x 13.71 meters at ground level as said by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). It had been constructed by ‘rubble masonry' which are uneven stone units. With a flight of 108 steep steps leading down to the well, it is divided into four levels.
Late Tughlaq (1321-1414 AD) or Lodi (1451-1526 AD) architectural style is evident from the design of Agrasen Ki Baoli. On the west corner of it is a small mosque. The four pillars made of red sandstone makes it a unique piece of structure given the general design of mosque. The columns are carved with Buddhist-chaitya motifs and have‘stucco medallions’.
Agrasen Ki Baoli was full of water till the 1970s but over the years as the urban jungle around it grew, the water level receded.
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