Abhaneri village near Bandikui in Dausa District of Rajasthan, India has become famous for its architectural splendor in early medieval monuments. Located at a distance of approximately ninety five kilometres from Jaipur, a two to two and a half hour drive, it attracts a lot of tourists travelling from Jaipur to Agra on Jaipur Agra highway. It has a rich history of architecture, culture and performing arts and has become famous for its centuries old Chand Baori step well and Harshat Mata temple. It has been renowned for its ancient art and sculptures, many of which are exclusive and showcased in the best museums of the country.
The village was originally named Abha Nagri – the city of joy, splendor and brightness founded by Raja Chand – the king of Gurjar Pratihar, originally believed to be the descendant of Lord Laxman, younger brother of Lord Rama. The village is believed to be more than four thousand years old and has several explored and unexplored pages of history buried in its ruins. However, the ruins closely resemble the architectural styles of 10th century art and architecture. Now, the name has been changed to Abhaneri.
Harshat Mehta temple is believed to be a source of joy and brightness for this village. The idol of Harshat Mata in joyous mood spreads the splendor of joy all around. The deity is offered daily worship by the local priests and is visited by a lot of locals and tourists daily. However, the annual fair of three days inside the temple attracts lots and lots of devotees and merchants from the adjoining villages. Carved pillars in the temple are worth noticing while the ruins of the deity give a good judgement of the artistic excellence at the time of creation of those sculptures. The temple was destroyed into ruins by Aurungzeb whose army turned the massive structure into ruins. However, the remains of sculptures carved on the walls and statues of this double platform structure still catch visitors’ attention at the first sight.
Chand Baori is a true treat to the architectural extravaganza. 3500 steps forming a myriad from a well on three sides extend in thirteen stories over hundred feet in height. It stands directly opposite to Harshat Mata Temple and was used by devotees to form the ritual of washing hands and mouth before visiting the temple. It is the largest step well of India offering a spectacular view to its visitors. The huge reservoir has long served as a point for community meetings with local villagers enjoying the cool water in hot summer days. The hallways in the front of the three sided step structure are beautifully sculptured and contain passages leading to the royal chambers of kings and queens. It has attracted overseas directors to shoot at this site in films like The Dark Knight Rises and The Fall. It offers a perfect photographic location and you would feel your fingers unconsciously clinching the camera to capture the perfect shot from the top.
The Abhaneri village brings with it a lot of creativity clearly depicted in unique mindset of people. Baoris, the traditional reservoirs for storing rainwater to make up for the scarcity in the dry seasons of Rajasthan are a great concept implemented well in Abhaneri. Abhaneri also boasts of its cultural extravaganza with Ghoomar, Kalbelia and Bhawai unique dance forms typical of Rajasthan. A one day return drive from Jaipur will be truly rejuvenating for visiting this ancient village. Because of its proximity to Jaipur, it is easily accessible on tourism map. The best time to visit this amazing place is in the months of October to March as it gets really hot in summers.