Agrasen ki Baoli – A haunted step well in the heart of Delhi

Agrasen ki Baoli – the name itself piqued our interest to a great height while we were researching Delhi for the first time way back in 2012. But we were able to visit the place only in our 3rd visit to Delhi because the Baoli does not usually feature in the tour operators’ to do list. Also, the Baoli stayed elusive to common eyes for years among the high-rises near Connaught Place. It is located in the narrow Hailey Lane, off the Hailey Road.

Agrasen ki Baoli
Towards the Agrasen ki Baoli

You will not believe until you visit the place that such an ancient monument lies hidden among the tall towers of the posh area of New Delhi. Credit also goes to the movie PK starring Aamir Khan for creating awareness about Agrasen ki Baoli. Actually, it is here where PK, the alien played by Aamir Khan took shelter in the movie.

Ugrasen ki Baoli
Full view of the Agrasen ki Baoli

What is a baoli, after all? A Baoli is usually a stepwell with elaborate steps leading down to the source of water at the bottom. A Baoli is also called Bawdi in Hindi,  Barav in Marathi, Vaav in Gujarati, Kalyani or Pushkarni in Kannada. These baolis often had an elaborate architecture with multiple levels and designs. Some baolis even had rooms for its users. Baolis served as the main water source for the people. Socially too, baolis were much more than step wells. It served as a community meeting place for people, mostly the women of the neighbourhood. Delhi had numerous baolis in it, but with time and advent of civilization, most of these structures were destructed and had been to oblivion. Agrasen ki Baoli happens to be one of the best maintained Baolis of Delhi and also one of the oldest monuments that Delhi can boast of.

Agrasen ki Baoli
Steps leading down to the well

There is no proper documentation as to who built the baoli. But it is believed that the legendary king Agrasen during the Mahabharata era around 3124 BC had built the Baoli. It was later rebuilt in the 14th century by the Agarwal community who are said to be descendants of king Agrasen. The Baoli is also called “Ugrasen ki Baoli” as is written on the red sandstone plaque outside the monument.

Agrasen ki Baoli
Agrasen ki Baoli

Agrasen ki Baoli has a unique mix of architecture with intricate designs and unusual structures. The Baoli is constructed of uneven stone units usually known as “rubble masonry”. The Baoli is 60m long and 15 m wide rectangular in shape and is made of superimposed arches supported on piers and columns. There are 103 steps leading down to the well with a series of chambers and passages consisting of 3 levels.

Agrasen ki Baoli
The levels of the Baoli

Each of the levels is lined with arched niches on either side. There are also rooms in the Baoli that now remains closed and perhaps happens to be the dwelling places of bats and pigeons. At the northern end of the baoli is a circular well. It is covered by iron grills at the top and is connected to the baoli through a shaft. In the past, as the water rose in the well, it would fill the baoli from the bottom to the top level.

Agrasen ki Baoli
Well at the bottom of the Baoli

The Baoli does give a grim look. In fact, Agrasen ki Baoli has the reputation of being one the haunted places of New Delhi. It is said that the water of the well was black in colour and the ‘black water’ had often lured people to jump into it and commit suicide. The water was said to entice the people to give up their life. And as one life was sacrificed by jumping into the well, the water level in the well was said to rise up. Whether these stories are true or figments of someone’s imagination cannot be said, but visitor’s do say that they often have an uncanny feel near the well. There are actually hundreds of bats and pigeons inside the baoli and they too can be one of the reasons for this eerie feeling felt in the baoli. While going deeper the sounds totally vanish, only what remains that is an echo of our own footsteps. As this sound becomes louder in a complete vacuum silence, the atmosphere turns more uncanny.

Agrasen ki Baoli
Is it haunted?

Whatever be the stories around it, Agrasen ki Baoli remains a very interesting place in the heart of Delhi. Mostly college goers now visit the place. The place also is one of the coolest places in Delhi and can be a respite in the scorching heat of Delhi. Visit Agrasen ki Baoli for knowing Delhi better.

Agrasen ki Baoli
The grim looking archways

Agrasen ki Baoli is only about 1.5 km from the Jantar Mantar and about 2 km from the India gate
Nearest metro station : Rajiv Chowk
Visiting hours: 7 AM to 6 PM
Entry is free

For a comprehensive travel guide of Delhi, click here.

The Ultimate Delhi Travel Guide

Dilli

Delhi is the celebration of senses. Delhi is one of the oldest cities of the world, capital of India, a goldmine for the historical buffs and heritage sites. The colour, smells, sounds and tastes of Delhi are like that kaleidoscope that makes us want for more.

Delhi has her monuments and heritage sites which speak volumes about the history of the subcontinent. And then there are the modern architectures which are equally awe inspiring. So here is a comprehensive travel guide which will help you in your visit to our capital. Have fun and enjoy.

1. Red Fort

Red Fort is not just any structure, it happens to be one of the most epochal buildings in the Indian History. Red Fort has been the house of Mughal Emperors for nearly 200 years, and now the Prime Minister of India hoists the Indian National Flag on every Independence Day. Made of red stone, the fort depicts the grandeur and magnificence of the Mughal architecture.

Nearest Metro Station: Chandni Chowk

Open on: All days

Entry Fee: Rs.10 (Indians) and Rs.250/- (Others)

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The mighty Red Fort

2. Qutub Minar and Qutub Complex

Qutub Minar is a 73 m high towering minaret built by Qutubuddin Aibak in 1192. The Qutub Minar has survived the ravages of time and has been declared as a World Heritage Site. The Minar is constructed from red sandstone and stands tall along with other crumbling structures in the lush green gardens.

There is a 7 m high iron pillar that stands in the courtyard of the mosque. It is said that if you can stand with your back to the pillar and encircle your hand, then your wishes will come true!

Nearest Metro Station: Qutub Minar

Open on: All days

Entry Fee: Rs.10 (Indians) and Rs.250/- (Others)

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The Qutub Minar

3. India Gate

Across Rajpath in central Delhi, the India Gate stands proudly as if reminding us the sacrifices made by different people during the history of India.  It commemorates the 70,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British Army during the World War I.Another memorial, Amar Jawan Jyoti was added much later, after India got its independence. The eternal flame burns day and night under the arch to remind the nation of soldiers who laid down their lives in the Indo-Pakistan War of December 1971.

The India gate is a significant part of the nation. Not only it salutes the past, India Gate also stands as testimony of any wrongs during the present times too. India gate is our pride as well as our conscience.

Nearest Metro Station: Central Secretariat

Open on: All days

Entry Fee: Nil

Delhi Travel Guide
The India Gate

4. Purana Qilla

Purana Qilla or the Old Fort is one of the magnificent structures of Delhi. It is located at the site of the most ancient cities of Delhi – Indraprastha. Purna Qilla is nearly rectangular in shape covering nearly 2 Kilometer and is made of red sandstone. The immense structure clearly shows the historical valour of the era. The Qilla was built by Humayun and later the work was carried on by Sher Shah Suri. Purana Qilla is also the venue for the spectacular Light and Sound Show that depicts the history of Delhi to the modern times.

Nearest Metro: Pragati Maidan

Open on: All days

Entry Fee: Rs.5/- (for Indians) and Rs.100/- (for others)

Photography charges: Free for still camera and Rs.25/- for video cameras

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Purana Qilla, New Delhi

5. Humayun’s Tomb

One of the most beautiful and well maintained places of Delhi. The fusion of Persian and Mughal styles are sheer architectural delight. The red stone monument in the midst of sprawling green gardens are a visual treat.

Nearest Metro station: JLN Stadium

Open on: Everyday from sunrise to sunset

Entry Fee: Rs.10/- (For Indians) Rs.250/- (others)

Delhi Travel Guide
Humayun’s Tomb

6. Lodhi gardens

The Lodhi Gardens is situated merely 3 kms from Humayun’s Tomb. So you can easily club these too during your visit. It is one of the public parks in Delhi dotted with tombs of the Sayyid and Lodhi rulers like Muhammad Shah and Sikandar Lodhi. The garden is well kept and the historical structures show the archeological splendor of the bygone era.

Nearest Metro: JLN Stadium

Open on: Everyday

Entry Fee: Free

Photography charges: Nil

7. Jantar Mantar

Jantar Mantar literally means instrument for calculation. It is one of  the five observatories built by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur between 1724 and 1730 to correct the astronomical tables and confirm the planetary positions that were available at that time. There are 13 different instruments which were used in finding out the positions of the astronomical bodies and the cycles of sun, moon and other planets.

Nearest Metro Station: Patel Chowk

Open on: All days from sunrise to sunset

Entry Fee: Rs.5.00 (For Indians) and Rs.100 (for others)

Delhi Travel Guide
Jantar Mantar

8. Agrasen ki Baoli

Agrasen ki Baoli is actually a stepwell believed to be built by King Ugrasen during the Mahabharat era. Agrasen ki Baoli remains hidden among highrise buildings and the residential bungalows at the periphery of the Connaught Place and reveals itself only to the inquisitive. It is one of the most well maintained Baolis of Delhi and perhaps one of the oldest too. Very near to the Jantar Mantar, this place is a must visit for those visiting Delhi.

Nearest Metro Station: Barakhamba

Open on: Everyday from 9 AM to 5 PM

Entry Fee: Nil

Delhi Travel Guide
Agrasen ki Baoli

9. Tomb of Safdarjang

This garden tomb built in the likeness of Humayun’s tomb as a mausoleum of Safdarjung, the viceroy of Awadh under the MughalEmperor Mohammad Shah. The Safdarjung Tomb was the built in red sandstone and buff stone and represents the lst of Mughal architecture. On either side of the tomb there are pavilions known as the Moti Mahal (Pearl palace), Jangli Mahal(Palace in woods) and the Badshah Pasand (Emperor’s favourite)

Nearest Metro station: Jor Bagh

Open on: Everyday, Sunrise to Sunset

Entry Fee: Rs.5/- (Indians) and Rs.100/-(others)

Delhi Travel Guide
Tomb of Safdarjung (Coutersy: Wikipedia)

10. Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah

A serene place paying homage to the famous Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya who lived in Delhi between 1238-1325 CE). The Dargah is a blend of all the cultures and people come here for prayers irrespective of caste, creed and religion. Every Thursday and Sunday evening, the Sufi masters fill the place with magic with rendition of their soulful Qawali. A visit will be truly a mesmerizing experience.

Nearest Metro Station: Nizamuddin

Open on: Everyday during daylight

Delhi Travel Guide
Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah (Source: Nizamuddin Auliya)

11. Garden of 5 Senses

The Garde of Five Senses is one of the best places in Delhi as an answer to the city’s need for leisure place. It was built by Delhi Tourism Transportation Development Corporation and was inaugurated in 2003. Spread across an area of 20 acres, the lush green garden is a perfect place for rejuvenation.

Nearest Metro Station: Saket

Open on: Daily

Entry Fee: Rs.30/- (Adult) Rs.10/- (Children upto 12 years and senior citizens)

Delhi Travel Guide
Garden of 5 Senses

12. Hauz Khas village and Complex

It is said to Delhi’s best kept secret. The south end of the Hauz Khas village is dotted with domed structures from the medieval period. Hauz Khas literally means the royal water tank. The large water tank or reservoir was first built by Khilji to supply water to the inhabitants of Siri. The tank has now given way to an artificial lake. Nevertheless, it is quite a place to spend some quiet time! The neighbouring village consists of a medley of shops – old and new, quirky and offbeat. A number of funky and creative designers have also opened their stores here. Hauz Khas thus presents itself as a fusion of the past and present looking over to the future.

Nearest Metro Station: Green Park or Hauz Khas

Open on: Everyday

Entry Fee: None

Delhi Travel Guide
Hauz Khas Village

13. Lotus Temple or the Bahai Temple

The temple is one of the major temples of the Bahai Faith. The temple is made of pure marble and is in the shape of a lotus – the common symbol of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam. The temple welcomes people of all faith – true to the tenets of the Bahai faith. Around the blooming petals of lotus there are nine pools of water that look amazing at the evening when lit by the flood lights.

Nearest Metro Station: Kalkaji Mandir

Open on: Tuesday to Sunday (Monday closed) 9.00AM to 5.30 PM

Entry Fee: Free

Delhi Travel Guide
The Lotus Temple or Bahai Temple

14. Akshardham Temple

Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple is one of the finest structures of Delhi capturing the essence of Indian culture in all its grandeur and beauty. The complex was constructed by Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Puroshottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) and was opened on 2005. The elaborate architecture, construction and the detailing will leave you spell bound. The glory and teachings of Indian philosophy is depicted here through exhibitions and Musical Fountain programme. It will be indeed an experience to visit the Akshardham Temple. The interior of the temple is simply marvelous with intricate and detailed works showing the craftsmanship of the talented workmen. No camera and mobile phones are allowed in the temple complex.

Nearest Metro Station: Akshardham

Open on: Tuesday to Sunday, First Entry: 9.30 AM and Last Entry: 6.30 PM

Entry Fee: Free

Cameras and Mobile phones are not allowed inside the temple

Delhi Travel Guide
Akshardham Temple (Source : wikipedia)

15. Jama Masjid

Jama Masjid is the largest mosque in India and is one the last and magnificent structures built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. The mosque has a large courtyard which can hold as many as 25000 devotees. The mosque has four gates and four towers and is constructed of strips of red sandstone and marbles. You can club your visit of Jama Masjid with Red Fort and Chandni Chown.

Nearest Metro Station: Chawri Bazar

Open on: Everyday, 7 AM to Noon and from 1.30 PM to 6.30 PM

Entry Fee: Free. But Rs.300/- is charged for using camera.

Delhi Travel Guide
Jama Masjid

So theses are the places in Delhi which are sure to turn you spell bound. And to help you experience the city, we are giving away promo codes of full version of City Walks App by GPSmyCity, one of the best travel apps. The app has a self-guided walks to visit the important and also a few lesser known places of the city. To know more click here.