The sooner Agrasen ki Baoli is refurbished, the better for New Delhi

Amidst the tall skyscrapers and residential buildings of Hailey Road, Connaught Place, lies Agrasen ki Baoli, a 14th Century marvel. Said to have been built during the Mahabharat era, this place used to serve as a destination for people to rest and rejuvenate during summer. Located at a just a few steps from Connaught Place, which is being spruced up for the Commonwealth Games, it is, relatively speaking, in a neglected state.

The baoli is flanked by chambers and passageways on both sides. The baoli or step well once acted as a reservoir for water. People used to come and swim too. They used to jump from the topmost floor straight into the heart of the baoli. The 103 steps at one time used to be submerged in water, which was a sight to behold. That was then. The water dried up some 15 to 20 years ago, and now people can walk down to the deepest point of the baoli. A popular belief sees people throwing in coins (silver and bronze), in the belief their wishes will be fulfilled, even today, says the caretaker. A 140-year-old neem tree which stands tall till date is one of the lesser known features of the place.

The Baoli is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Entry is free, and students and tourists, both Indian and foreign, do frequent this unusual landmark. It is also a favourite hangout for couples seeking solitude. Gurgles of hundreds of pigeons can be heard while bats are seen in the darkest of chambers. Once this place was a hub for the anti-social elements, but stricter action, it seems, has ensured their removal, and a guard is on duty day and night.

Unfortunately, the monument has been reduced to ruins. Rickety steps, dirt and debris mark the place today. The entrance, originally built to showcase the marvellous architecture of the Lodhis, is in a shambles. The opening of the reservoir which connects the well to the baoli is clogged with debris.

Restoration work

However, all is not lost yet. Restoration activities have been undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) with active support from the Aggarwal Samaj. Some of the dirt and debris have been cleared and the place looks better. Vikas Kumar Singh, the caretaker, says, “Staff working in Jantar Mantar come and clean the place regularly.”

They have also installed lights to improve the structure's presentation. Hopefully the baoli will soon regain its lost glory.