Ever fascinated with ancient monuments, when I heard about this place I was very excited. I immediately googled about it and read up whatever was available. Strangely, even though it is in the heart of the city, not many people know about Ugrasen or Agrasen Ki Baoli.
Again, there is no general consensus as to who built this historical stepwell. The popular belief however, holds that it was built by the Raja Agrasen of the agarwal community in the pre Lodhi period to preserve water.
In December 2012, I had visited another step well, Anangtal Baoli, located in Mehrauli. It had been a memorable trip with two of my friends. Something I had wanted to repeat soon but hadn't got the chance.
Baavris at Baoli
Then one fine day, me and a friend, who is equally gung ho about quaint places, eagerly set off for the Ugrasen Ki Baoli. The place is located inside a tiny lane called Hailey lane on Hailey Road in CP. The fact that it can be easily reached by an auto or by the metro made us too happy. For your information, the closest metro station is Barakhamba or Rajiv Chowk.
When we entered the place, we met the usual crowd that greets you at all Delhi Heritage sites. College kids, photographers, love birds and a few elderly people who visit the place to crib about the rest of the visitors.
The moment we reached the Baoli, I went ahead on my snap happy spree and my friend became my muse for the day. The light however, was not very favourable. The deeper we went into the well, the worse the pictures turned out.
Simplicity at its best
It is a relatively simple structure, consisting of a single flight of 103 steps that culminate in a now dry water tank. The stone walls of the well are stark yet beautiful, forming a 60 x 15 meter rectangle made up of a series of superimposed arcades.
As you go down the steps, the silence deepens. The air too becomes putrid with the smell of bat shit, making one wonder what we are doing to preserve such places. However, all is not lost. Unlike other places, this Baoli did have some caretakers who if nothing else saw to it that people don’t enter the restricted areas.
Walkways interrupt the walls at three levels, allowing the visitor to explore various alcoves and rooms. Today, the more hazardous of these rooms are secured with gates. One can easily see the craftsmanship and the intricate work on the ceiling of the dome. It’s a pity however, that most of it is in a poor condition.
Many years ago, this Baoli must have been a solace for people suffering because of the summer heat. There used to be water in the Baoli till as recently as 2001. Lovers threw coins to wish for something, boys threw pebbles and the birds alighted for cool dip.
As with all relics, the silence was all encompassing making it hard to believe that this place is so close to the commercial capital of Delhi. The only giveaway is the skyscraper which outlines the horizon seen from the Baoli.
While people have deserted this place to a great extent, the wise have taken abode. Every nook and cranny of the Baoli has been taken over by the pigeons. Now it is their world.
If you ever visit the Baoli, do look out for a mosque nearby. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make the time to visit this place. Instead, me and my friend preferred to walk down the Hailey Road which itself is quite a nice place for a walk.