Agam Kuan is one of the most ancient archeological sites present in Patna. English meaning of Agam Kuan is “Unfathomable Well”. History says that this monument was built during the Maurya period. It is also believed that Emperor Asoka built this well for prisoners to torture them during the period of 268-232 BC. This is constructed in the days before his conversion to Buddhism. This is located to the east of Patna the capital city of Bihar.
It is said that it is fiery well and also known as hell on earth. Agam Kuan is a huge well where its diameter covers about 20`2“ with a circular plan and is 105 feet deep.The upper surface of the well which is 44 feet is built using red brick which is again secured by wooden rings. The surface of the well which is now closed has a most distinctive feature of 8 arched windows. The lower half of the well which is 61 feet was securely envisaged by wooden railings.
There are strong voices which support that the Emperor Asoka killed his 99 elder brothers and threw them into the well to usurp the throne. The Jain legends also have their own belief that a monk named Sudarshan, was thrown in the well by a tyrannical king of that time, Chand. He then found monk Sudarshan floating on water sitting on a lotus inside the well.
Laurence Waddell, a British explorer while exploring the ruins of Patna, found this ancient well Agam Kuan was built by Emperor Asoka for torturing enemies or prisoners. This practice of killing enemies was mentioned by a Chinese traveler, Fa Hien during the period of 5th – 7th centuries. The well is considered auspicious for festivals or religious ceremonies till date.
Agam Kuan is Patna`s quaint monument and is famous for another relic, the temple of Shitala Devi, which is adjacent to the Agam Kuan. The Goddess is famous not only for the cure of chicken-pox, small-pox and fevers but also known for her abundant powers of fulfilling all the desires.There is an Image of Shitala Devi and pindas of Saptamatrikas, the seven mother form which are worshiped here in the Mandir.
Shitala means one or which cools, so Shitala Devi can be interpreted as the goddess who cools down. Hindus believe that she is a cure for all the viral and Pox – diseases. She is often referred as Ma by Buddhists, Hindus and Jains. She is also worshiped as Vasant, the goddess of spring season. Some of the most commonly used titles for the Devi are Thakurani, Jagrani which meant Queen of the world, Karunamayi, the Goddess of mercy, Mangala an auspicious goddess, Bhagavati, means Goddess and Dayamayi, the Goddess of full kindness and Grace.
Mata Shitala is worshiped during the dry months of winter and spring by Brahmin Priests or any low caste priests. Aarthi for the goddess is conducted every day while chanting stuties like Shitala Ma ki Aarthi, Shitala ma ki Chalisa and Shitala ma ki asthak.She is represented as the young goddess carrying a small broom, which is believed to dust off the germs, in one hand and a bowl of cool water for healing diseases. According to Hindu Mythology she is said to carry Neem leaves, which poses abundant medicinal value which can cure skin diseases.
Jwarasur, the demon of fever once spread the bacteria which affected all the children in the area, then the Goddess Shitala cleaned all the bacteria from the blood of the affected. She is a form of Goddess Katyayani, Adi Shakti. According to Buddhist myths, Shitala Devi along with Jwarasur worshiped along with Paransabari, a Buddhist goddess for diseases. She is often worshiped along with Ooladevi and goddesses of diseases.
Here in Agam Kuan, there used to be different ancient sculptures from which one represented from the times of Mauryan era, the time of Asoka.
This Agam Kuan is situated in the outskirts of the city and can be reached by private cabs or any tourist travels from the city. It is nearly 11-12 km from Mithapur bus stop and is 10km away from Patna junction.