Delhi’s Forgotten Stepwells – Ugrasen Ki Baori

Delhi drives me crazy. I was once in love with Delhi, madly and deeply. But then a couple of summer ‘days’ spent in Delhi killed the romanticism blossoming inside me.

Recently, I got to know about the step-wells in Delhi from a good friend, Vipin Gaur. He has visited almost every step-well in and around Delhi. And he has ventured as far as Dausa, Abhaneri, and Jaipur in search of these step-wells. I suggest you all go through his Facebook profile to catch a glimpse of these beautiful engineering marvels. Yes, Facebook because he is too lazy to write a blog.

My first visit to a step-well was in the year 2012. A visit to the Chand Baori in Rajasthan, 60 KM from Jaipur. It is a remarkable engineering spectacle that was built long ago to meet the local water demands of the nearby villages.  But we will talk about it in a separate post some other day.

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But little did I know that such structures existed in and around Delhi as well. And of all the places in Delhi, I could never imagine that a step-well was silently waiting for its redemption near the most happening place of Delhi; the Connaught Place.  It lies just next to the Connaught Place. Close to the Max Muller building on the Kasturba Gandhi Marg. A few hundred meters from the Metro Station. A kilometer maybe.

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A Ganesha graffiti welcomes you as you inch closer to the step-well. Not surprisingly, the ASI has placed its boards and warnings in place just next to the entrance gate. After that, they forgot about this step-well, I assume. Because that’s how they usually work.  Today it is frequented by love-birds in the mornings and afternoons. However, evenings here are colorful. Heritage lovers, photography enthusiasts, and musicians visit this place during evenings.

Travelers and blogger’s meetups are quite a common site here these days. Although for a photographer, the best time to be here is early morning. Don’t be too surprised if you see love-birds chirping in inaccessible corners of this structure. During my visit lovers were popping out of the arched-corridors causing collective embarrassment. Or maybe only I was the only one who felt embarrassed.

Love makes people do crazy things. And when it is Delhi, you may as well expect supernatural proceedings. Anyway!

Ugrasen Ki Baori
Ugrasen Ki Baori

The popular sentiment says that this Baori was constructed during the Lodhi Regime in Delhi during the 1451-1526 A.D. period. However few historians also suggest that the step-well was constructed by the Maharaja Agrasena (Ugrasena) himself who belonged to the Mahabharat Era. A book written by J.P. Mittal mentions the same in his book History of Ancient India: From 7300 B.C. to 4250 B.C.  Maharaja Agrasena/Ugrasena was the one who started(sic) the Aggarwal Community.  Although the ASI mentions that the style of this Baori resembles the construction pattern followed by the Lodhi Invaders Rulers.

Agarasena/Ugrasena perfromed eighteen yagyas and after completion of each yagya he named a new Gotra. Surprisingly, my surname which happens to be Goel was coined by him after the completion of second Yagya.

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Mosque at Ugrasen Ki Baori

This Baori measures 60 meters along the North-South direction and its ground level width is 15 meters. At the entrance, there is a mosque which has a whale-back roof and one half of this mosque is broken. The caretaker doesn’t allow people to go near the mosque and rightly so.

As you stand atop the baori, at its first step, you can see the high-rise buildings of Connaught Place. And then you realize that Delhi is not mad-rush and hassles only. A silent walk down the corridors of Delhi, like this one will remind you of what Delhi meant in the olden days.

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An Engineering Marvel
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A Lost Engineering Marvel

I am in love with Delhi again. With these forgotten corridors.

2 thoughts on “Delhi’s Forgotten Stepwells – Ugrasen Ki Baori”

  1. Nice to read from other people that they’re as jubilant about the stepwells as I am myself.

    You probably are not able to read it, since it’s in Dutch, but I just returned from India and published a piece on my blog regarding the baori’s. Visited Abhaneri, Nimrana and lovely Panna Mia Baori at Amber. One needs not go far to find beauty (not many tourists know about it, I can’t understand why. Travel guides hardly mention it, or not at all.)

    And I was pleased to discover Agrasen in Delhi. Truly great spot!

    Greetings from Holland.
    http://hanslcv.wordpress.com

  2. Hello Hans, Thanks for your comment. Its indeed a pleasure to find someone like you writing about these stepwells. These were the indigenous methods of harvesting water and sadly we, as a community have stopped paying attention to them. But I am hopeful if people write and read more about them, certainly there will be a way out for preserving them.

    Regards

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