A STEP WELL IN THE HEART OF DELHI
Agar Sain Ki Baoli is an interesting edifice in the heart of Delhi city and is one of the few step wells to be found here. Though the origin of this monument is shrouded in mystery, it must have served its purpose of quenching the thirst travelers. Travelers could even relax within its cool, dark interiors before recommencing their journey. The monument conforms to the traditional Hindu style of architecture.
Agar Sain Ki Baoli belongs to the traditional Hindu style of architecture that originated and developed in the Indian subcontinent.The roots of this style of architecture go back to the time of the Gupta Dynasty (AD 320-AD 520), which is also known as the Classical Age or the Golden Age. Various buildings belonging to the Hindu style of architecture can easily be identified by architectural elements like chhatris (small dome like canopies, supported by pillars), pillars-ornate and elaborately carved or plain, without much embellishment, use of floral patterns, animal, and human forms depicted in low relief (shallow carvings) or in high relief (deep or highly incised carvings) on the exteriors and interiors of the buildings etc.
The numerous Hindu temples spread all over India are the best examples of the Hindu style of architecture and the origin of temple architecture also goes back to the time of the Gupta Age. At first, the temples mainly consisted of a small room or the Garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) where the idol of the main deity was kept. Later on, as time went by, temples became big and massive owing to their religious function of their being the nerve center of the traditional Hindu society. The temples in India can be divided into the north Indian style and the south Indian style on the basis of the construction of the shikhara (a prominent roof, which surmounts the top of the Garbhagriha, and dominates the surroundings). Apart from temples, the other manifestations of the traditional Hindu style of architecture are in structures like baolis (step wells), palaces, utilitarian buildings etc.
The traditional Hindu style of architecture has a number of local variants (Gujrati, Bengali, Rajasthani etc), all governed by geographical conditions and enriched by contributions from different rulers belonging to different periods. The Hindu style of architecture blended later with the Islamic style of architecture introduced in India by the Muslim rulers, which gave birth to a new style, the Indo-Islamic style of architecture.
AGAR SAIN KI BAOLI
Agar Sain Ki Baoli or the step well of King Agar Sain is a good example of the traditional Hindu style of architecture. Though it is located in Connaught Place in the heart of the city of Delhi, it has an atmosphere of peace and quiet. Baolis are step wells, which were not only built for drawing out water for irrigation purposes but also for travelers to quench their thirst and relax in the cool precincts. Agar Sain Ki Baoli is a small structure built with rubble and dressed in stone. At the northern end is a raised roofed platform, which is covered by chattris. The roof is supported by rows of pillars, which are plain and undecorated. Agar Sain Ki Baoli has five levels very much like the famous baolis in the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Each of the five levels has a floor and an arched resting space. Stairs from the platform lead down to the resting spaces and also to the center of the structure, which is the well. This well is also linked to another well camouflaged under a covered platform.
Agar Sain Ki Baoli is simple in comparison to the ones found in the Indian states of Gujarat and Rajasthan. The baolis of Gujarat and Rajasthan are not only multi-leveled and big, but they are elaborately decorated by intricate carvings, depicting animal and human forms, floral motifs, and scenes from various Hindu and Jain scriptures.
LEGENDS OF THE STEP WELL
The origin of Agar Sain Ki baoli is not known and there are a number of interpretations about when and under what circumstances it was built. According to one legend, a king by the name of Agar Sain, who ruled the region around Agra many centuries before the reign of Sikander Lodi (AD 1488-1517), built it. He built this step well for the benefit of the travelers, covering the distance between Delhi and Agra. Some others claim that it was built in the ancient times and connect the name of the Agar Sain with Ugrasen the maternal grandfather of Krishna, one of the ten reincarnations of Lord Vishnu. Yet others say that Agar Sain, who was the founder of the Aggarwal community (business community in the Hindu society), built this baoli.
HOW TO REACH
Delhi is well connected by air, rail and road with important centers within India and abroad. Travelers can reach Agar Sain Ki Baoli either by taking local buses from various points within the city as this monument is located in Connaught Place, which is the heart of Delhi city. Travelers can also hire auto-rickshaws or taxis for the purpose. One can take buses from important bus stations like Inter State Bus Terminal, and Connaught Place etc. to reach this monument.