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Abhaneri – the largest step well of India

AbhaneriAbhaneri village on Jaipur Agra Highway, 95 kilometres from Jaipur in Dausa district of Rajasthan has lot to offer for tourists. After visiting the forts and palaces in Jaipur, it offers a completely new angle to architecture lovers. It was built by Raja Chand and was initially named Abha Nagri – the city of delight and brightness. It is famous among the tourists for Harshat Mata Temple and Chand Baori – the largest step well of India. The Harshat Mehta temple is more than thousand years old and is considered to be the epitome of brightness, joy and delight by the joyous sculpture of deity Harshat MAta. The villagers offer daily prayers at the temple which consists of beautiful carvings on its pillars. The temple was destroyed by the army of Aurungzeb. However, the ruins still offer a great insight to the ancient art and sculpture.

Step wells have been quite an old concept in India dating back to 10th century. These wells were used by the local villagers to gather and spend their time talking, celebrating festivals in the cool serenity of the cold water of the wells on hot summer days. They were used to harvest rainwater to be subsequently used in droughts as Rajasthan is a dry state with scarcity of water in many areas. However, Chand Baori was built in ninth century, long ago the step wells of Adalaj and Rani ki Vav.

There are many baoris all over the village; however the Chand Baori is the largest. This largest step well of India is a hundred feet tall structure extending in thirteen levels with over thirty five hundred steps running up and down. The criss-cross structure gives an amazing magical three dimensional view running on three sides of the well. The awesome symmetry and geometrical patterns will definitely leave you spell bound. The jharokhas or the viewing galleries of kings and queens on the three storied structure are carved with beautiful sculptures that give an insight into art of medieval India. This provides a true architectural bliss to the eyes. One side of this three sided stairs structure used to be a stage for performing arts. The villagers here are avid performers of Ghoomar, Kalbelia and Bhawai. The Baori also had royal rooms for kings and queens. The Baori was used by the devotees to perform the ritual of cleaning their hands and feet from the water of the well before offering prayers to the deity.

Unlike other monuments and places of interest, the entry to this great structure is completely free. At the entrance, you may also find a bunch of English speaking guides who will give you a quick ten – fifteen minutes discourse on the history of the temple and the Chand Baori. After a lot of up and down movements by kids, they will still return bawled thinking about whether this massive structure was built upside down or vice versa ! It is recommended to spend some time in appreciating the architectural symmetry and views from different angles of the structure. Set out your cameras to capture the most spectacular views and keep clicking at different angles. This is bliss for photography lovers. This site has also been used as a shooting location for Hollywood Blockbusters like The Dark Knight Arises and The Fall. This return drive trip from Jaipur to one of the obscure architectural extravaganza is worth visiting! However, due to the extremely hot summers, this open air structure can be best enjoyed in months from October to March. So, Just set out and start exploring!

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