Agrasen ki Baoli: Is it Mrs. Sparsit’s Staircase?

“When Mrs Sparsit notices that Louisa and Harthouse are spending a lot of time together, she imagines that Louisa is running down a long staircase into a “dark pit of shame and ruin at the bottom.” – Hard Times (Charles Dickens)

Well, this was Mrs Sparsit who doomed Louisa for having an affair with Mr Harthouse and declined her ability to step up the stairs as beautifully as she went down the staircase. This is an instance from one of Charles Dicken’s popular novels, Hard Times. That was fiction! But, don’t you see the overwhelming reality embedded in those lines; those stairs of hers? Don’t you often become a victim of the quandary that pokes you about your existence as a human who climbs up the stairs or moves deep down the stairs?

I guess each one of us delves into such contemplation often, especially when things are not so great. Now that’s a reality, isn’t it? The situation is not naive to us. And thus, we get back to it like a regular visitor.

Similar to this was my state of mind when I first visited the great historical monument, Agrasen ki Baoli. The Baoli is located in one of the prime locations of Delhi, Connaught Place. On your trip to Delhi, if you are heading towards CP or Old Delhi for a delectable meal, do visit the historical Baoli for an amazing experience. If you are using metro for committing to CP, then you have to deboard at Rajiv Chowk metro station, and from there hire an auto-rickshaw for reaching Agrasen ki Baoli.

To be honest, my reason for visiting the Baoli was not an intellectual one, and the scorching heat of Delhi had already diminished my curiosity. It was merely a zeal to visit the photogenic place, where many of my friends and now Amir Khan himself got clicked and shot for a film.

Since I had little knowledge about the monument, I was looking for someone to enlighten me. I was lucky to find a security guard, who was less of a guard and more of a travel guide. He was standing at the gable-like entrance of the Baoli enlightening the curious minds of the excursionists.

We didn’t know that the security guard would be a part-time monument guide, we just passed through the gate of the Baoli. When we were a little far from the gate, he called out to us, “Madam! Do you have a travel guide?”

I told him that we had no travel guide with us. That was enough for him to begin the enchanting story of the creation of this mystic Baoli.

He told us that this is the only Baoli of Delhi that is preserved to the extent of its clear visibility. Most old monuments are deserted and try to stand upright in their ruined state. However, this Baoli is popular for its perfect maintenance (as far as the archaeology department could preserve) and most visited by tourists. People who visit the Jantar Mantar or India Gate always drop by this monument to have a picture clicked. The guard also told us a very rare-known fact. He said that the name Agrasen ki Baoli was earlier known by the name Oojer Sain’s Bowlee. It is noted in history that Maharaja Agrasen was the mind behind the creation of this intricately eye-appealing Baoli. When you step deep down the staircase, you will come close to the place where the black water rules. It is believed that the triumph water in the well had inspired many individuals to jump into it and die. Some of these myths have created yet another myth or maybe reality, as one wishes to believe, that the Baoli is haunted. Well, the guide-cum-guard told us many other facts about the Baoli, which we could not roger due to his distinct accent.

After listening to the story, I realised the true significance of the place. It was not just a picture perfect monument; it was much more than that. Soon, the guard realised that he was stopping us from entering the Baoli. He stepped aside and we started climbing the stairs. While I was climbing the long stairs, I was wondering don’t we always do this? Don’t we always want to climb the ladder; the ladder of success. We climb the ladder and then step down from the top!

The ruined structure

Soon, we reached the top and found another structure on our right-hand side. The structure was in complete ruins.

It was the month of June and Delhi was heated like an oven. After climbing a couple of stairs, we were extremely tired. Due to the humid weather, we were unable to explore the Baoli completely. So, I would advise you to visit the monument during the winter seasons only. The best time to visit, according to me, would be from September to February.

To shoo away our tiredness, we sat near the ruined structure and clicked some pictures. We saw that a glass house or perhaps a glass room was built in front, which seemed to belong to a captain or the guard of the Baoli. I wonder who stayed there!

Well, we didn’t delve deeper into our thoughts and used the glass covering of the room as a mirror. It helped us convert back into humans in a few minutes.

On the left-hand side of the room, there was a bench on which four friends were getting their pictures clicked. I and my friends sat there for a while and then went downstairs.

We saw people getting clicked near the gables, making different poses, and enjoying themselves. I also saw a professional photoshoot happening on the top-right corner of the Baoli. As we were stepping down the stairs, it started smelling worse. And soon, we had to take our steps back and move upwards. I guess we could not stoop downwards that day!

As soon as I moved out of the red sandstone gate of the Baoli, I instantly decided that I would visit again. This time I would visit in winters!

Writing about one of the oldest monuments of Delhi and contemplating over the fact that how many steps have I stepped down the staircase!

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