Agam Kuan is known to be the oldest and the most important archaeological sites in Patna
. Agam Kuan, which means "unfathomable well", is said to date back to the period of Maurya emperor, Ashoka (r. 268–232 BCE). The well is located east of Patna, Bihar
, south-west of Gulzarbagh Station.
Agam Kuan is 105' deep, circular in plan, with a diameter extending over 4.5 meters (14.7 feet). The well is brick-encased in the upper half of its depth (down to 44') and thereafter, secured by a series of wooden rings. The surface structure, which now covers the well and forms its most distinctive feature, has eight arched windows.
History and legends
During the 1890s, the British explorer, Laurence Waddell, while exploring the ruins of Patliputra, identified Agam Kuan as the legendary well built by Ashoka for torturing people, a practice reported by Chinese travellers (most probably Fa Hien) of the 5th and 7th centuries A.D.
Another popular legend states that this was the well where Ashoka threw ninety-nine of his elder brothers after killing them to obtain the throne of the Mauryan Empire. The site is also connected with several Jain legends, the most famous of them being that of a Jain monk Sudarshana who, when thrown into the well by a king named Chand, floated to the surface and was found seated on a lotus. The well's is still considered auspicious and a site for many religious ceremonies, especially Hindu weddings
Shitala Devi temple
Next to the Agam Kuan lies the Shitala Devi temple, dedicated to Shitala Devi, which houses the pindas of the 'Saptamatrikas' (the seven mother goddesses). The temple is widely revered for its potency in curing smallpox and chicken pox, as with all Shitala Devi temples, and is also visited by devotees for wish fulfillment.
The site also has several ancient and medieval sculptures, out of these at least one as reported by A. Cunningham, who visited the site, 1879–80, was of the Yaksha of the Mauryan art-affiliation, though the whereabouts of this sculpture are not known now.