Samudra Koop that literally translates to ocean well is one of the most sacrosanct tirths of Prayagraj. Located in the archaeologically important town of Jhusi, this ancient well was established during the reign of the Chandravamsa dynasty (Lunar dynasty) roughly around 7100 BCE.
Jhusi used to be known as Pratisthan Pur during the reign of Maharaja Pururava who performed countless yagnas and yagas to invoke the blessings of the Sapta Sagaras (Seven Seas) to reside in the Samudra Koop. This city came to be called Andheri Nagar with the famous proverb, “अंधेर नगरी चौपट राजा, टके सेर भाजी टके सेर खाजा” after Maharaja Pururava enamoured with his beautiful wife Urvashi neglected his duties to his people and his kingdom. This proverb was included in the renowned play ‘Andher Nagari’ by Bharatendu Harishchandra.
This well has been mentioned in the Matsya Purana and Padma Purana as a divine entity and it is highly recommended that one should spend some time in meditation and prayers and circumambulate the well that is equal to doing pradakshina of the universe. The waters of the well is said to have medicinal and healing properties. Thousands of devotees throng this well during the Solar and Lunar eclipse, Amavasya and Purnima, Kumbh, Ardha Kumbh and Magha Mela to be rid of all sins and physical and mental ailments. According to the Hindu scriptures, the Pancha Pandavas visited this holy well after the incident at Lakshagriha.
Archaeological excavations have revealed that an earthquake destroyed this city in the 14th century BCE (1359 BCE). A fair number of coins, pottery, idols and copper items from various periods have been discovered here.
Maharajadhiraja Shri Samudragupta of the Gupta dynasty built this well on the ruins of the ancient city on a high mound on the bank of the Ganga River. He is also believed to have constructed a similar well with the waters of the seven seas in Mathura, Ujjain, Varanasi and Pataliputra (Patna).
The well is located in Ulta Qila along with a small group of temples of great antiquity. One can have darshan of Ram Janaki Temple, the padukas of Lord Vishnu, Shiva Linga, a south-facing Hanuman Temple, Laddu Gopalji, an ashram and Maharaja Pururava with Urvashi and many caves where saints have performed tapas (penance and austerities) within the fort. There is an old Hanuman shrine known as Khade Hanuman Ji in the cave.
Interestingly, the water in this well is saline and its depth is said to be equal to that of the ocean! The well is 22 feet in diameter and built in stone. The water has never been known to dry up.
Samudra Koop is a protected monument of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)