The Chand Baori is a stepwell built over a thousand years ago in the Abhaneri village of Rajasthan. It is one of the largest stepwells in the world and also one of the most beautiful ones.
Chand Baori in Abhaneri, near Jaipur, Rajasthan, is among the largest, if not the largest, of the stepwells. It is also perhaps the most visually spectacular: Chand Baori is a deep four-sided structure with an immense temple on one face. Some 3,500 Escher-esqe terraced steps march down the other three sides 13 stories to a depth of 100 feet. The construction dates to the 10th century and is dedicated to Harshat Mata, goddess of joy and happiness. Chand Baori inside view was so named as it was built by King Chand Raja from the Gujarat Pratihara clan, who claim to be the descendant of Lord Ram’s younger brother Laxman.
The Chand Baori is not an easy landmark to find, thus it is one of the hidden secrets of India!
Water plays a special part in Hindu mythology, as a boundary between heaven and earth known as tirtha. As manmade tirtha, the stepwells became not only sources of drinking water, but cool sanctuaries for bathing, prayer, and meditation. The wells are called by many names. In Hindu, they are baori, baoli, baudi, bawdi, or bavadi. In Gujarati, spoken in Gujarat, they are commonly called vav are unique to this nation. The wells have steps built into the sides that lead down to the water.
Chand BaoriChand Baori one was built during the 8th and 9th centuries and has 3,500 narrow steps arranged in perfect symmetry, which descend 20m to the bottom of the well.
Centuries ago, the stepwells were built in the arid zones of Rajasthan to provide water all year through.
The architecture of the wells varies by type and by location, and when they were built. Two common types are a step pond, with a large open top and graduated sides meeting at a relatively shallow depth. The stepwell type usually incorporates a narrow shaft, protected from direct sunlight by a full or partial roof, ending in a deeper, rounded well-end. Temples and resting areas with beautiful carvings are built into many of the wells. In their prime, many of them were painted in bright colours of lime-based paint, and no traces of ancient colours cling to dark corners. About 64 feet deep, it is India’s largest and deepest stepwells with 13 floors and was built in the 9th century for water harvesting.
The baori has a precise geometrical pattern, hard to find in this age. The steps form a magical maze and the consequent play of light and shadow on the structure gives it a captivating look. It has an enclosed rectangular courtyard kind of structure. Upon entering you reach a jharokha (windows).
Descending the stairs on the left, you can see the cavernous baori narrowing towards the bottom, crisscrossed with double flights of steps on three sides to reach the water surface down below. The stairs encircle the water on the three sides while the fourth side boasts of a pavillion with three storeys with beautifully carved jharokhas, galleries supported on pillars and two projecting balconies enshrining beautiful sculptures.
The remaining stepwells are in varying states of preservation, and some have gone dry. Local kids seem to find the ones with water to be terrific diving spots, which seems insanely hazardous.