Agrasen ki Baoli, an old monument hidden in the bowels of the skyscraper encrusted heart of the city of New Delhi, Cannaught Place. Not known to most people, this is a protected archaeological site, an old step well. With 103 steps completely immersed in water, this used to be a storage house of water… The visible parts of this historical step well consist of three levels. Each level is lined with arched niches on both sides.
From an architectural perspective this step well was probably rebuilt during the Tughlaq period. However, the oldest existing Baoli in Delhi, the Anangtal Baoli located in Mehrauli which was also known as Yoginipura, was built in the 10th century by the Rajput King Anang Pal II of Tomar Dynasty. Anang Tal literally means reservoir provided by Anang Pal of the House of Tomar.
Regarding the name Agrasen Ki Baoli it should be stated that in 1132 AD an Agrawal poet named Vibudh Shridhar mentions, in his work Pasanahacariu, a wealthy and influential Agrawal merchant of Dhilli named Nattal Sahu who was also a minister in the court of King Anang Pal III. Rebuilding the old Baoli would have been within the means of a wealthy Agrawal community.
Although there are no known historical records to prove who built Agrasen ki Baoli, it is believed that it was originally built by the legendary king Agrasen during the Mahabharat epic era and rebuilt in the 14th century by the Agrawal community which traces its origin to Maharaja Agrasen.
Water temples and temple step wells were built in ancient India and the earliest forms of step well and reservoir were also built in India in places like Dholavira as far back as the Indus Valley Civilisation.
Recently, I went there, with an unique friend of mine. Here’s a poem I wrote about the rendezvous. This is an important part of my life. This place, was already special since I’d already been there before a lot many times, from the first visit, last October with my best friend. And now after this recent visit, I have become quite sure, it has become one of those things in my life, that I cannot give up deliberately. This was already beautiful and now, it’s become special.
Through the many nooks and vents,
Wings of feather dart and flap.
It is a maze, through which,
I do not want to escape.
Through the topmost window,
We watched the sun slowly dying.
I felt your hands untying the knots among my thoughts,
I felt your lips burning through and through my stiffness.
I just wish the wheel of time would never have restarted,
From how you’d stopped it for us to intertwine and breathe…
Oh, there, right there, will I go back every time.
Because you showed me what real love could be like.
I would never have known.
And died and faded away like that.
You showed me that doors aren’t always needed.
To escape, we could just come out…
Leaping out from one of the many windows.
But this is a maze I do not want to escape.
I’m happy and so let me sing your praise…
It’s always been my choice, don’t make me sad.