Time plays a game which makes sure that we all become a part of history one day. The same game has been played with a historical site which was used to collect rainwater and also acted as a popular social gathering place for women’s in Indian villages or cities.
I’m talking about the Stepwells of India, which are now mentioned as Ancient India Stepwells, as they have gone extinct.
In my journey from New Delhi to Karnataka, I’ve explored more than two dozen stepwells which were used to store rainwater, and some of them have incredible craftsmanship, that might even make Taj Mahal, the second-best site in India.
But last month I visited a stepwell which is just 10 km from my home and almost every major newspaper in New Delhi has featured it.
I’m talking about Agrasen Ki Baoli which is in Connaught Place, New Delhi.
An Introduction to Agrasen Ki Baoli
If you do google search for Agrasen Ki Baoli, you will find that this stepwell has more than 1250 reviews, which is a damn good number.
I knew about this stepwell when I visited the 1st stepwell site Chand Baori back in July. But I always delayed visiting Agrasen Ki Baoli as it’s just 20-minute drive from my home and it took six months to take this drive.
Agrasen Ki Baoli which is also called as Ugrasen ki Baoli is a 60-meter-deep and 15-meter-wide stepwell which has a written history of more than 900 years; 12th-century stepwell.
Many have also claimed that this stepwell was built by Maharaja Agrasen who dated back to Mahabharata era, around 5000-6000 years old. If this claim is true, then Agrasen Ki Baoli is the oldest stepwell site in the world.
Though real historians have suggested that an Aggrawal poet named Vibudh Shridhar has mentioned in his work, Pasanahacariu, that Agrasen Ki Baoli was built in 1132 AD and later in the 14th century, it was re-developed by Aggarwal Community.
Location of Agrasen Ki Baoli
Before I entered Agrasen Ki Baoli, I must say that the neighborhood of this stepwell is fantastic. It’s in Connaught Place which is the best place to be in New Delhi.
For those who aren’t aware of Connaught Place, it’s the number one commercial center in Delhi where you can find some of the best restaurants, hotels like The Lalit, Le Meridien Hotel which are just walking distance away and India Gate is just 2 km from Agrasen Ki Baoli.
Entering Agrasen Ki Baoli
It’s not easy to find Agrasen Ki Baoli as it’s not on the main road. So, I had to use my GPS to finally reach this address – Hailey Road, Near Diwanchand Imaging Centre, K G Marg, New Delhi, Delhi 110001 – the address of Agrasen Ki Baoli.
Hailey Road is a narrow street, and I parked my car just outside the stepwell complex. Plus there isn’t any entry ticket, though there were some guards here, more like for crowd management as there was like 50-100 tourist inside the Baoli.
There is just one small arch entry gate for Agrasen Ki Baoli which has these steel rod gate; like the one which we see in Indian jails and a small stone slab which the stepwell name and a drawing.
But all these loose points were flushed away once I entered the stepwell which is stunning. I see a four storey stepwell with a background of tall buildings of Tolstoy Marg and Barakhamba Road. Plus, around 50 couples inside. FYI – It’s no family spot ?
Well, one thing which I was sure of that this stepwell isn’t a Mahabharata era Baoli because of its architecture.
Architecture of Agrasen Ki Baoli
Agrasen Ki Baoli is made up of red sandstones which are available in the state of Rajasthan and on the both sides, there are arched gateways which are mostly seen in the architecture of Delhi Sultanate period and Mughals.
There is also a mosque in Agrasen Ki Baoli, an old one and all of these points are enough to convince that Agrasen Ki Baoli is a 14th-century stepwell built during Lodi or Tughlaq dynasty.
But never the less, this is a great stepwell site which I had to visit to add its pictures and story for my collection of Ancient Indian Stepwell. Plus I didn’t found any ghosts here which is mentioned all over the web.
Haunted stories connected with Agrasen Ki Baoli
Well, stepwells are in India since the Harappan Civilization, and it’s only the 21st century which has the haunted stories about them.
The one with Agrasen Ki Baoli is that the stepwell water use to be black and it hypnotizes its visitors to jump in it and commit suicide.
I didn’t see a single drop of water here, but I knew that this stepwell was full of water till the 90’s. There is a famous picture of Agrasen Ki Baoli which was taken back in 1976 and yes, the water here use to be black (not dirty).
So, I did some research on the haunted side of Agrasen Ki Baoli and I only find one suicide case in 2007 when a man jumped and died in the stepwell, and even at that time, this Baoli was empty.
Else, there isn’t any haunted story of a ghost living here or any UFO; is just local Delhi myth.
Though a “UFO” story would definitely rhyme with Agrasen Ki Baoli and might also get this Baoli featured in a Hollywood movie. Though, Agrasen Ki Baoli has been featured in a few Bollywood films.
Agrasen Ki Baoli in Bollywood movies
The latest movies which have featured Agrasen Ki Baoli are Salman Khan started Sultan 2016 and Amir Khan’s PK 2016. In PK 2016, our friendly alien Amir Khan aka PK made a temporary residence at Agrasen Ki Baoli, as he had lost his space ship.
Here is shot of Agrasen Ki Baoli from movies P.K.
And not just directors love to film some shots at Agrasen Ki Baoli; many fashion designers love to bring models here for a perfect photoshoot.
Like in 2012, Formula One came to India, at Greater Noida which is close to New Delhi, a photo-shoot of Formula One models also took place here. Here is a picture from that event.
Why should you visit Agrasen Ki Baoli
Well, who am I you tell you to why visit this stepwell but if you are one of those people who loves to view some old memories via photographs, then Agrasen Ki Baoli is an ideal place to capture some happy memories.
More stories connected with Agrasen Ki Baoli
Raghu Rai picture of Agrasen Ki Baoli
An another interesting story connected with Agrasen Ki Baoli is of Raghu Rai and Sam Miller. Sam Miller is a British journalist who wrote a book on New Delhi – “Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity“.
In this book, Sam wrote great reviews about Agrasen Ki Baoli and added a picture of the baoli taken in 1976 by a famous Indian photographer Raghu Rai.
Later Sam visited Agrasen Ki Baoli and met with Bagh Singh, the guard/ watchmen of the stepwell who was the same boy jumping in the stepwell, in the 1976 picture.
First Sam didn’t believe this, but when Bagh Singh took out a picture from his pocket and convinced Sam that he is the same boy because it was the same 1976 photograph by Raghu Rai.
The below picture was taken by Sam of Bagh Singh with the 1976 Raghu’s image.
Agrasen Ki Baoli in National Archive
In India, we have the National Archive which is maintained from the British era. In 1911, when British India Government shifted their capital from Calcutta (current Kolkata) to Delhi they prefer the area of current Connaught Place for their official government work.
In the National Archive, it’s suggested that there were two stepwells in Connaught Place area. One is Agrasen Ki Baoli which is mentioned as Oojer Sain’s Bowlee and the second one is gone. It’s under the skyscrapers of Connaught Place.
So, if the Britishers might not have shifted their capital to Delhi, then we could have two stepwells here at Connaught Place.
So that’s all from my trip to Agrasen Ki Baoli, there are still many stepwells to cover in Delhi, and in this month I plan to visit more. Plus, also check out this armature video made by me of Agrasen Ki Baoli.
It’s been a while since I have been in Delhi. Much heard about Agrasen Ki Baoli but did not get an opportunity to visit the place. I was not aware that is was used as a stepwell in past. This some good information about the past. I would take out some time to visit this beautiful monument. Pictures that you’ve posted are beautiful.
Thanks Bornomadic :)
Whoa, what a creepy story about the suicides .. I can see why people started to tell the story! It’s such a beautiful place, but it really has a mysterious thing about it! I’ve never been to the area, but it would definitely try and visit these kind of places!
Hi Laura, if it wasn’t for the haunted stories, then this Baoli wouldn’t have been a popular site. We all kinda love to visit sites with stories :)
This is such a lovely post! I have been visiting Delhi for so many years and never been here…need to change that :)
Thanks Sid, you should definitely check out this stepwell.
I knew Delhi as a place of Mughal emperors. Today I learned some new things & places. Keep it up publishing these nice things.
Hi Asif, well Agrasen Ki Baoli is more of Delhi Sultanate site rather then bring of Mughal one. But you should definite;y check it our if you are in Delhi,
It’s quite intriguing to know that in the heart of the city a place like this could exist. I visited this place many years back when the entire place was full of couples and pre wedding photographers. Your pictures are pretty good.
Thanks Archana. and the stepwell is still full of couples and photographers :)
I always wondered where the step well was located after watching the movies. Thanks for sharing the tidbits about the place. Agrasen Ki Baoli thus seem like a pretty ancient structure. The stepwell looks different in the older pictures, I’m actually intrigued with the water being black here.
Hi Suman, the stepwell does seem different in the old archives and now there isn’t any water but it’s more like a Bat car those with good maintenance :)
Agrasen Ki Baoli looks so beautiful, a beautiful reminder of time gone by. I too am fascinated by these step wells. Many years back I had visited the stepwell in Adalaj near Ahmedabad, Gujarat and found it fascinating. The history behind the structure too is intriguing. Have you been to this one, you should in case you have not :)
Hi Sandy, I’ve been to Adalaj Vav along with Dada Harir, Rani Ki Vav and Modhera Sun Kund in Dec last year :) The stepwells in Gujarat are more beautiful then the ones in New Delhi. Just have a look at jatinchhabra.com/category/step-wells/ and you will see my collection of stepwells.
Hi Jatin! I came across your blog while doing some planning for my first trip to India! You have visited several of the places I am planning to visit, and have given me ideas to add to my itinerary -like this beautiful stepwell! Thank you for all the wonderful information and photos! I have enjoyed reading your blog. :) I hope to see more of your posts in the future!
Hey Hannah, Just share the list if cities you want to visit in India, I might be able to share a few more names…
The name Ugrasen Ki Baoli, anything to do with the father of Kamsa, Ugrasen who was the emperor of Mathura after Kamsa got killed by Krishna
Nope, this stepwell is not from Amar Chitra Katha :)
Nope, its not related with the Mathura King…
I believe that its named after Agresen, a king from Mahabharat age.
Whats official? Ugrasen or Agrasen? Lets use official one to have uniformity!
Well the names keep changing and I am sure that in coming years we might have a 3rd name :)