Monday, July 29, 2013

Amazing Places: Chand Baori

This may look like an Escher drawing but it is real, the world's largest stepwell.

Stepwells are wells or ponds where the water is reached by sets of steps. They may be multi-storied. Although they are most common in western India, they are also found in regions of South Asia, extending into Pakistan. Stepwells were developed to cope with seasonal fluctuations in the availability of water, the idea being that it was easier to manage and gather the groundwater, and for people to reach the water, with stepwells rather than with tanks

Chand Baori is a famous stepwell in the village of Adhaneri near Jaipur in India.

Constructed in 800 AD, it has 3,500 steps that are 13 stories high. The steps descend 30 metres into the ground and it is one of the largest and deepest stepwells in India. Three of the walls comprise stairs, the fourth has pavilions built atop each other with niches for statues. There is also a stage for performing arts and a room for the king and queen to stay. As indicated by the green water in the well, it is no longer in use as a working well. Readers may have seen it featured in The Fall and The Dark Knight Rises. I recall that it was also used as a challenge location in The Great Race.

It was built by King Chanda and was dedicated to Hashat Mata, the Goddess of Joy and Happiness. It was also used as a gathering place for locals during periods of intense heat, the temperature being 5-6 degrees cooler at the bottom.

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