Photographer's Note

Imagine discovering a 700 year old monument of historical significance ‘hidden’ right under our very nose in the heart of commercial centre of New Delhi!

A newspaper report about an incident caught my attention & I asked my colleagues where the place might be. When I heard that it was within 10 minutes walking distance from our office, I was thrilled.
Located on the narrow Hailey Lane on the Atul Grove Road (old Hailey Road) cutting across the Kasturba Gandhi Road, in the center of modern Delhi, is an ancient stepped well or Baoli. Agrasen's Baoli (stepped-well) is said to have been built by Raja Agrasen, the forefather of the Aggarwal community. Situated amidst the modern high rise buildings, the entrance of the baoli has almost vanished.

Boalis (the step wells) are ancient water reservoirs which were built by various dynasties that ruled Delhi. Today were engineering marvels and remarkable art forms that today lie in ruins. The step-well consists of two parts: a vertical shaft from which water is drawn and the surrounding inclined subterranean passageways, chambers and steps which provide access to the well. The galleries and chambers surrounding these wells were often carved profusely with elaborate detail and became cool, quiet retreats during the hot summers. The galleries and chambers in some of the baolis went eight levels below the ground level and provided the much needed relief from the north Indian summers.

From architectural perspective Agrasen's Baoli’s considered Tughlaq period. This complex might have been constructed by Agrawal community which traces its origin to Maharaja Agrasen. This 14th century structure is believed to be among the 'finest' baolis in Delhi because of its innovative designs. Built with rubble and dressed stone, it measures 60 meters long, from north to south and 15 meters wide at ground level. The main feature of the structure is the long flight of steps flanked by a thick wall with two series of arched structures, the lower ones submerged under water and the upper ones just above the surface of the water. These steps between the walls lead down to the water level. Some parts of well are permanently immersed in water. The visible parts of step well consists of three levels. Each level is lined with arched niches on both sides.

This Baoli, which is named after Raja Agrasen has a legend that any Aggarwal new to the area could call on his fellow Aggarwals for help. Every person of the community would help him by donating a brick and a small sum of rupees. Likewise he would help the next person of the community in need.

Agrasen's Baoli is a fascinating remnant of Delhi's history in the midst of the modern heart of the city.

This is a stitch of 6 photos. However, I had to crop & reduce the height of this picture (I miss the fringes of the steps which needed to be chopped off) in order to post the Large Version. The original version (uncut), which I would have liked to post can be seen here. Note the parts of the steps to the right & the green foliage at the top, which had to be cropped off. The Large Version, however is of this uncropped version in full size.

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Additional Photos by Angshuman Chatterjee (Angshu) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 7851 W: 324 N: 16060] (56760)
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