Delhi by Metro Walk to Agrasen ki Baoli
सकल बन फूल रही सरसों Sakal ban phool rahi sarsoṅ
अंबवा बौराय, टेसु फूले Umbva boraye, tesu phuley
कोयल बोले डार डार Koyal boley dar dar
और गोरी करत सिंगार Aur gori karat singaar
These lines by Amir Khusro, brings out the real beauty of spring which surrounds us all around. One of the best times of the year to walk around the city, experience it and marvel at the treasures which otherwise go unnoticed. Jayati Talapatra shared that the idea behind the walks organised by Delhi by Metro is to promote the eco-friendly way of touring the city whose lungs are choking under excessive pollution. Had read long back in a Perceval Spear's book foreword that, the city of Delhi is full of surprises, as a good treasure hunt. You may suddenly find a ruined arch many hundred years old beside a recently built bungalow or see the reflection of a high rise building in the waters of an ancient step well. It definitely holds true when I went to Ugrasen or Agrasen ki Baoli last Saturday. The only apparition is that though high rise buildings exist, the step well has no reflection to boast of, as its water is drained owing largely to the Delhi Metro Rail activities.
The beautiful surprise awaits when you make way through Hailey Road, Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. The colourful graffiti on the walls on both sides gives the area a vibrant touch. The 108 steps deep well or baoli has a history of thousand years to speak of; though in an absence of documented evidence the best recourse are the stories being carried since generations. It is named after Raja Ugrasen , the forefathers of the Aggarwal community. This was later rebuilt in 14th Century by Aggarwal community during Tughlaq period. Aggarwals so rightly collaborated to fight the shortage of water during summers by getting it rebuilt. Today we stand on the mighty ground which was built on an enviable system of mutual help.
The architecture of baoli has its bearing in the similar construction that was being carried out during that period. The raised platforms on three major levels is flanked by arches on three sides. One could imagine people sitting on the steps, enjoying cool breeze brushing past the trees and regaled by performances happening on summery evenings.There is no limit to the flight of imagination taking off within, while listening to the tales being told by the fellow walkers, an eclectic mix of professionals who are avid travellers and city enthusiasts. Swayam Tiwari shared that Delhi's history as commonly perceived isn't only history of just Mughals or Lodis or Britishers rather it has tales of Nattal Sahu, Yogmaya and many more.
This Baoli garnered interest owing to the Bollywood affiliation by the movie PK. It has its fair share of rumors about being haunted too. There were many interesting tales shared that the last suicide documented here was in 2007, psychological interpretation being offered is negativity induced by black water stored at the bottom of the well. Pigeons and bats have claimed it as their unrivalled territory.The stories continued while walking along the tree lined avenues to National School of Drama, Mandi House. The artistic expressions being offered by walkers on the pavement with their impromptu scribbling and drawing drew curiosity and participation. The cultural vibrancy of the green lawns of National School of Drama cast a spell to spend a few more hours. The much needed coffee and conversation followed and also a promise to walk more around the city.
Images Courtesy: Mahesh Semwal