In the deep recesses of the Walled City is a buzzing lane, the Lal Kuan Bazar Road, famous as a one-stop destination for all kinds of kites and accessories.
Not many are aware that Lal Kuan is still a well — in all likelihood from the Mughal era — with walls of red stone. Approach from either Fatehpuri Masjid or the Chawri Bazar Metro station and ask someone, “Where is the well… the Lal Kuan?” and most will answer: “This is Lal Kuan (the area).”
However, an elderly shopkeeper can help: “Right behind the police chowki, below the peepul tree.”
Negotiating the sea of humanity, treading the narrow lane, which has a curious mix of pedestrians, cycle-rickshaws, hawkers, not to mention shops with goods overflowing on to the street, one reaches the police chowki in question. An imposing peepul tree hovers over the recently built police outpost.
Sitting on an extension of the platform — with idols of gods and goddesses — around the tree trunk is Rajendra Prasad Upadhyay. A tin shed raised on four iron rods covered the well, which was an open well till 25 years ago. With plastic sheets on its sides and a wooden plank covering the well, this has been Upadhyay’s home for the past 14 years.
The well, which once served potable water to the area, has been out of use for quite some years. “Whatever is there now is all filthy, stinking waste water,” Upadhyay said.