Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The Massive Stepwell of Abhaneri

Chand Baori Stepwell, Abhaneri Village, Rajasthan

The stepwell is a peculiar architectural phenomenon, which is unique to the Indian Subcontinent, where the hot and dry climate creates a need for shaded water reservoirs - especially in the and around the desert landscape of Northwest India.

So far, the deepest, biggest and most amazing stepwell I have seen is 9th century "Chand Baori" located in the small village of Abhaneri a few kilometres of the Jaipur-Agra highway. It is absolutely massive and I think the picture above really doesn't convey the full scale of it.  We stopped there on the way back from Ranthambore to Gurgaon and that was definitely a good call.

Many stepwells feature simple designs as they are basically just - as the name suggest - a series of steps leading down to a water source. But a few of them are much more elaborate than this suggesting that apart from the practicalities of providing water they also played a ceremonial and recreational role within the local community. This particular stepwell at Abhaneri has a small palatial complex built into its design, making it one of the more impressive archaeological sights in India.

Until recently Chand Baori could not even be found in guide books, but these days it has started appearing on the tourist radar, although still not attracting anything near the throngs of tourists the masses you see in nearby Agra and Jaipur. This is however, bound to be just a matter of time, since the stepwell is ideally located as a road stop when travelling in India's Golden Triangle. It won't be long before the visitors roll in by the bus load.

Abhaneri is also home to a few stone temple ruins, including some with erotic motifs, which is not something you see that often in these parts.

Chand Baori is undergoing restauration efforts - probably in
expectation it's coming increased importance on the tourist circuit

My travel companions inside one of the palatial pavilions facing onto the well

One of the nearby temples, which is being painstakingly restored from scattered piles of of old rubble, stones and sculptures

One of the erotically themed reliefs. I believe these were quite common in India in the old days, but few survived the more prudish invaders that overran India over the years. Perhaps this one survived by being already ruined at that time?

A little further down the road to Delhi: A colourful assembly

4 comments:

art invasion said...

hii esben, its been a few months u had not updated u r blog...i really love u blog n photography specially n m a reagular visitor of your blog from last month.
i am eagerly waiting for u r update.

Himmat said...

Very nice captures!

Himmat said...

Very nice captures!

neha thakur said...

Thanks Esben,
In spite of living in Gurgaon I didn't know about Abhaneri. Plan to visit soon.