Time stands still in the Agrasen ki Baoli. Its stones struggle to utter stories but miserably fail in their endeavor. Bang in the middle of Delhi, this medieval era stepwell means different things to different people.
The Agrasen ki Baoli called me again yesterday. I was required to play the role of a guide for a group of ladies taking part in a ‘Search A Monument’ contest. My role was to inform the ladies about this medieval architecture delight.
But I won’t go deep into what that contest was all about, it would bore you no end.
Agrasen ki Baoli- hear the stones speak
If only I had super sensitive ears, I would love to hear these stones speak.
Historians say that this stepwell was made first in the 8th century A.D., which means roughly 1,300 years ago. So much of history has since happened in Delhi. Do these stones have something to say about those days and times?
I would love to know about the people who spent their days in this baoli. What were they talking about? Did they talk about their own lives? Which issues bothered them most? Crops, famines, what?
Did the ladies come to these baolis? Was it safe for them to visit the numerous rooms that we see in these step wells?
What about the affairs that blossomed in these baolis? Was Agrasen ki Baoli a prominent meeting point for unmarried men and women?
1,300 years of history
The stones of this mysterious baoli have seen the pages of Delhi history change. First the Hindus, then the Slave dynasts, Khiljis, Tughlaqs and the Sydes ruled Delhi. After these dynasts came the turn of the Lodhis, Mughals and then the British. I wish these stones of Agrasen ki Baoli could utter a few words for visitors like us.
I know for sure that the place around this baoli was called Jai Singh Pura during the reign of Aurangzeb. That famous Raja had a palace on the Baba Kharag Singh Marg which was later gifted to one of the Sikh Gurus.
Would you like me to take you on a guided tour of Delhi?
A few years later, another Raja built the world famous Jantar Mantar observatory. So now we know that the area around this Agrasen ki Baoli was indeed quite a prominent place.
But you know what?
I am deeply interested in the life and times of the common folk and not just about how our kings and queens lived. Would this baoli ever give me answers to my question?
I want to know how the people of Delhi lived and loved?
I want to know what all foods did the Delhiites ate?
I really want to know who built this baoli.
I also want to know what was the architectural style in Delhi more than a thousand years back.
What were the names of the common Delhi people and how did they cope with their cruel and insensitive rulers?
What happened when a new ruler set up shop in Delhi? How did it affect the daily lives of the Delhi folk?
I wish some start-up guy came up with a technology that unlocked all the stories in the hearts of these stones of Agrasen ki Baoli.
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