Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chand Baori Step Well in Rajasthan, India

Chand Baori in Abhaneri village in eastern Rajasthan, India, is one of the most overlooked landmarks in the country. It is one of the oldest stepwell in Rajasthan, and is considered to be among the biggest in the world. Chand Baori looks like anything but a well. This incredible square structure is 13 stories deep, and lined along the walls on three sides are double flight of steps. 3,500 narrow steps arranged in perfect symmetry descends to the bottom of the well 20 meters deep to a murky green puddle of water. Built during the 8th and 9th century by King Chanda of Nikumbha Dynasty, provided the surrounding areas with a dependable water source for centuries before modern water delivery systems were introduced. As the green water at the base attests, the well is no longer in use, but it makes for an interesting stop-over to an architecturally impressive structure that is over 1000 years old. There’s also a temple adjoining the well for visitors to explore.

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Stepwells, also called bawdi or baori, are unique to India. These wells have steps built into the sides that can be descended to reach the water at the bottom. Stepwells are generally larger than common wells and are often of architectural significance, just like Chand Baori.

The well’s sheer endlessly appearing geometric complexity made of stairs and steps ensured that Rajput people had access to water at any time of the year, and from all sides. The reasons behind building such an elaborate step well is not fully clear. Some believe it was used as a water harvesting site. Rajasthan is a dry place, and hence, every ounce of water is precious. The large mouth of the well functioned as a rain catching funnel that contributed to the water seeping in from the porous rock at the bottom. In addition to conserving water, Chand baori also became a community gathering place for the Abhaneri locals. The townsfolk used to sit around the step well and cool off during the summer days. At the bottom the well the air is always about 5-6 degrees cooler than at the top.

The steps surround the well on three sides while the fourth side has a set of pavilions built one atop another. The side that has the pavilions have niches with beautiful sculptures including religious carvings. There is even a royal residence with rooms for the King and the Queen and a stage for the performing arts.

Chand Baori was featured in the movie The Fall and also made a small appearance in Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises.

The well is now a treasure managed by the Archeological Survey of India.

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Sources: Rang7, Xflo

14 comments:

  1. Incredible ! more so when you consider that this was built over 1000 years ago. Mankind does occasionally have it's moments.

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  2. But why not the dirty water in the well be pumped out and fresh clean drinking water pumped in and the well again used for rain-water harvesting? The ASI should maintain the well in a useful manner not just preserve it as a tourist site.

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    1. Fully concur with this observation

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    2. I'm sure they have modern wells now that have electric pumps and so there is no practical reason to pump out all the water and replace it. However, it would be nice if they could clean out the green algae and the plastic bottles thrown in there by the idiot tourists. But I'm sure, just like everywhere else, they have staff and budget shortages so it is probably all they can do just to keep the buildings intact, so they probably don't have the time or energy to clean out the water pool.

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  3. Thoughts on steps - just a theory
    Having done excavations by hand, I believe the steps were constructed while they dug deeper, this would allow for support of the trench walls and allow workers to move up and down easier while carrying soil out. Hence why the stop is wider than the bottom.

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  4. Its ironical to see the modern humanity considering budget constraints when the old civilization didn't worry about budget when they built such wonders! I would like to go there and see for myself the depth of empty air above green water. It feels kind of unsafe too, imagine one hurling down from the top, before the final splash.

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    1. I don't mean to put you down in any way, but I think you discredit old civilizations by presuming that they did not have any concern to budget when constructing what we now consider to be historical wonders. Certainly, old civilizations must have been able to manage budget in order to construct wonders, as there needs to be some account as to ingress and egress supplies going into construction in order to readily supply them.

      Cost of construction is probably considerably reduced without things like safety regulation, labor unions, minimum wages, and the abolition of slavery.

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    2. Yea, but back then, you either dug the well, or you die of thirst. Or you conquer other people and use them as slaves, or for more convenience, use your own people as slaves. And work them to death.

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    3. They didn't have to worry about budgets... they had slavery.

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    4. Regardless of ya'lls bickering, bantering?, you do have to admit, the ancients did have flair! They built for functionality, all the while making it pretty. That ability got lost somewhere in the shuffle. Pity.

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  5. If one could only prove existence of slave labour in India with primary evidence, then, only then, I will accept Anonymous comments.

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    1. There were slaves in India. India used to have something called the caste system. Look it up. The "slaves" were known as untouchables.

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  6. why pump out 1000 year old water just remove the litter

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  7. Wow, justr seeing for the first time. Absolutely facinating...

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