An insight into the Rajputs of Rajasthan.
The state of Rajasthan in western India is one of the wealthiest states in terms of history, art, architecture, and grandeur. As one of the princely states of India, before India became an independent country.
Rajasthan, an amalgamation of many smaller sovereign states, was considered amongst the wealthiest, with a history dating back centuries, and a lineage of people who were considered warriors, and called themselves ‘Rajputs’, literally translating to ‘sons of kings’.
The origin of Stepwells – a source of respite from harsh summer months.
In the western states of India, the hot, dry, summer months were a lot to deal with. With a desert to one side and slim chances of rain through summer months, water was always scarce.
The monsoons saw heavy rains, but as soon as the monsoons came, they disappeared, leaving long, dry spells ahead. So came into creation the idea of a stepwell, as early as 550 AD, as a solution to harvest rainwater.
The stored water was used for bathing, washing, irrigation of crops, and a sanctuary to cool off, away from the prying heat, for weary travellers, and pilgrims.
Many of these stepwells were complex engineering feats, similar to every other structure of the time.
In addition to water harvesting, the stepwells had religious significance too, and very often a temple would adjoin the stepwell.
Also used as a venue for performing arts, stepwells gained popularity for their sheer visual splendour.
It displayed architectural genius and skill of astounding levels, and one of the most profound among these was Chand Baori.
Chand Baori – a jewel in the history of stepwells.
Considered one of the best-kept, hidden gems of India, this one is not easy to find since it’s slightly removed from the usual travel circuit of Rajasthan. But it deserves all the praise heaped on it.
You’ll find Chand Baori in a small town by the name of Abhaneri, about 93 kilometres from Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan.
While most people make it to Jaipur since it’s the gateway to Rajasthan, and has an abundance of history and architecture, seldom make it to the stepwell.
But if you want to witness something truly magnificent in terms of architecture, make that extra effort and get yourself to Chand Baori!
What sets Chand Baori apart.
From other stepwells is the simple fact that it is the oldest and largest in the state, and one of the largest in the world.
A visual treat, unlike any other, Chand Baori, has a whopping 3,500 steps that descend to the well, spanning thirteen stories in height, extending about 30 meters into the ground.
That makes it one of the steepest and largest stepwells in the country. While there is no documentation about its construction, it’s commonly believed to have been commissioned under the rule of King Chanda of the Nikumbha dynasty, between the 8th and 9th centuries.
A visual masterpiece.
Is perhaps the best way to describe Chand Baori. This astonishing square structure has thousands of double flights of steps built in absolute perfect symmetry descending to a well of green water at the base.
The sheer genius of the construction left me flabbergasted! The geometrical patterns employed to create a design like this was so far ahead of its times, and the construction itself must have been such a task, but the result was truly beyond imagination.
From afar, when I looked at it, it resembled some kind of a maze, but when I looked closer, I could see an appearance of order, precision, and perfection in it all.
While three sides of the stepwell are covered in steps, the fourth side has corridors of pillars at various levels. Every corridor is filled with ancient artefacts and numerous stone sculptures that depict tales from Hindu mythological texts. Two balconies stand out from where the views of the stepwell are stunning!
Adjoining the stepwell is a temple dedicated to a local goddess known as Harshat Mata.
Chand Baori In recent times.
Chand Baori received a lot of fame for being featured in the ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, and films of Indian origin, but don’t let that be the reason for your visit! Go visit the stepwell for its sheer beauty and to enjoy the architectural prowess of artisans who created magic with their hands.
How To Get To Chand Baori.
Visting Chand Baori isn’t the simplest, which is one of the reasons why many tourists give it a miss. But believe you me, it’s worth the extra effort you’ll make to go out of your way to visit.
While it’s easiest to reach from Jaipur thee capital and the largest city of the Indian state of Rajasthan, and one of the stops on the Golden Triangle in India together with New Delhi and Angra (Taj Mahal)
Jaipur is accessible by trains, flights, buses from all over northern India. One of the best places to the see mighty Bengal Tiger is also in the state of Rajasthan,
Chand Baori is located in the small settlement of Abhaneri which are located 93km/58miles east of Jaipur.
Pubic transport between Jaipur and Abhaneri is limited. The easiest way to get here would be by hiring a taxi from Jaipur.
Or you could take a local train from Jaipur to Bandikui Junction, and from there, take a local auto-rickshaw or bus to Chand Baori.
The most budget-friendly and simplest way except for taking a taxi is to take a local bus from Jaipur to Sikandra, and from there you could get a shared jeep or auto_rickshaw that takes you right to Chand Baori.
When going back to Jaipur, take an auto-rickshaw from Chand Baori back to Sikandra where he should drop you next to the highway, just wave down any bus going towards Jaipur.
So take the effort, and visit Chand Baori. It isn’t the best-preserved of structures, unlike its counterparts in Jaipur and other parts of Rajasthan, but it’s still in pristine form, and worth all the effort you’ll take to get there!
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