Chand Baori is the most beautiful and largest well in the world
Many people think of a well as a small tank into which a tank is lowered on a chain to draw water. A trip to the Indian town of Abaneri in the state of Rajasthan changes the common view of wells radically.
A bird’s eye view of Chand Baori
In a mysterious and densely populated country where every drop of fresh water is literally worth its weight in gold, one can see how reverently people have treated the gifts of nature. The stepped well of Chand Baori is considered a true architectural marvel that has attracted the attention not only of many tourists but also historians, archaeologists and architects.
Since ancient times India has always attracted genuine interest from other countries: its culture, the multitude of religions and the huge number of attractions simply can not go unnoticed. People in this country have always known how to build. Temples, cave monasteries, tombs and wells in India even today are considered to be unique masterpieces, many of which are protected by UNESCO. The Chand Baori Well in Rajasthan is one of the greatest structures, astonishing in size and shape.
It is impossible to find anything similar on our planet: stepped wells, which are more like majestic temples, were built only in India. The well in the city of Abaneri is considered the largest and most beautiful in the whole country. Near it you can always meet tour groups consisting of tourists who came to the mystical country from all over the world.
General view of the well
Chand Baori: a little historical background
Many travelers, barely looking at the photo of Chand Baori well, immediately decide to travel to a small town where you can see this magnificent monument of history and architecture. The name of one of the most amazing sights in India comes from the word “baori”, which means steps. Historians are still unable to name even an approximate date of appearance of the largest well in the world in India. Many experts say that Chand Baori was built roughly between the IX and XI centuries (the official version at the moment), while others say that a huge reservoir for collecting potable water appeared 600 years before Christ. Alas, no chronicles mentioning the construction of this architectural marvel have survived. However, there is an ancient legend that almost the entire population of Abaneri believes in: it says that the well of Chand Baori was built…in just one day. Naturally, only otherworldly forces could have met such a deadline: according to the legend, the water reservoir was erected by demons. Unfortunately, it is also impossible to know the date of this prediction.
The Chand Baori Well: India’s architectural masterpiece
If you look at the exterior of the well, you might get the impression that you are facing a small fort that was built by the British during their colonial rule in India. Of course, this impression is deceptive: just step inside and you see a huge, deep well that resembles an inverted pyramid. On its three walls the masters built steps by which one could descend to the water. Chand Baori is just over 30 meters deep and the number of steps is 3,500!
On one of the walls you can see a huge temple, in which in ancient times were performed religious rituals. Water in the well Chand Baori accumulated during tropical downpours, and thanks to the clever calculations of the unknown architect, it was preserved in the reservoir for more than six months. The entire territory of the modern Indian state of Rajasthan is considered arid: there are tropical downpours for only three months of the year, during the rest of the year it is difficult to find water suitable for drinking.
A view of the temple of Durga and Ganesha
The well at Chand Baori was mostly filled with rainwater. The small underground spring was not enough to satisfy all the needs of the population living in and around Abaneri. Due to its great depth, the life-giving water evaporated only slightly, and besides, the water in the well did not overheat and was drinkable for a long time. However, to drink from the ancient reservoir in our day can venture only a desperate traveler: in the 19th century the British even issued a decree forbidding the use of water from Chand Baori. The reason for this law becomes clear to anyone who looks at the polluted bottom of this well, overgrown with algae. The reason is that the Chand Baori well, besides serving as a reservoir for fresh water, was also a sacred place: one could enter the multilevel temple built right in one of its walls only after an ablution. The Indians purified themselves, as it is not difficult to guess, directly in the drinking water. Because of this, pilgrims and the indigenous population of Abaneri were constantly plagued by parasites and outbreaks of infectious diseases that spread throughout the country.
The steps of this well were all unguarded: it is impossible to calculate how many people have lost their lives in a 30-meter fall. Firstly, no one kept this terrible statistics, and secondly, as already mentioned above, even in our time it is impossible to determine with accuracy the date of construction of the Chand Baori. The Indian authorities allow everyone to visit this attraction, but in all the tourist brochures appeal to tourists with a request not to test their sense of balance and, especially, not to bathe and not to drink water from the well. The locals still go down to the muddy waters and perform ablutions in them, because according to their religion, only after this ritual can one enter the temple and address the higher powers with a prayer. Moreover, purification in the well is also necessary before visiting the nearby temple “Harshat Mata”, built in honor of the goddess who gives happiness, joy and prosperity to man.
Chand Baori Well in Rajasthan: A Tourist’s Guide
Nowadays, pilgrims only wash their hands and feet in the Chand Baori well, an ancient architectural masterpiece: the rangers keep order and do not allow them to swim in the dangerous water, which, according to bacteriologists and parasitologists, can “kill a person in 2-3 days”. Despite this, reports of deaths in this sacred place appear quite often in the Indian press. Mostly local children who wanted a refreshing dip during the hot dry season fall into the muddy waters. There are also sporadic cases of tourists dying in the well Chand Baori. For this reason it was decided to protect the 30-meter deep reservoir with a railing. Of course, no fences can save a person who decides to walk up the 3,500 steps and reach the niches where the sculptures of deities Ganesha and Durga.
A view of the steps of the Chand Baori well
As much as you want to show off your skills to other tourists, it is best to refrain from going down to the bottom of the well. You can also take stunning photos of Chand Baori at the railing of this huge structure. You have to be especially careful during the monsoon season when all the steps are slippery and keeping your balance on them becomes quite a challenge. To reach the most beautiful and the deepest well in the world, you need to take a flight to the city of Jaipur. From there you can take a sightseeing bus to Abaneri. Do not use crowded public transport, it is better to wait for the formation of the tour group and go by comfortable bus to the well of Chand Baori. One of the most amazing sights in India is only 95 kilometers from Jaipur.
Chand Baori is an ancient stepped well for collecting water located near the temple of the goddess of happiness and joy in the town of Abaneri, halfway between Agra and Jaipur. The well is a unique construction of ancient architecture: built between the IX and the XI centuries, it is a huge, 13-step truncated pyramid, the top of which is directed downwards. The well was built by King Chanda of the Nicumba dynasty to provide the surrounding area with a source of fresh drinking water. The tiers of steps are connected by stone staircases with a total of about 3,500 steps. Depending on the level of water in the well, the stairs were used to get down to the required tier. The steep slope and great depth of the well helped to avoid rapid evaporation and provided good quality fresh water during the long dry season. For a long time the well was considered sacred and in addition to using it for drinking water, pilgrims regularly took ablutions in it before visiting the temple of Harshat Mate nearby. Today the water in the well is preserved only at the bottom and is certainly not suitable for drinking – moreover, since the end of the XIX century in the well is prohibited ablution of pilgrims because of the danger of epidemics. And nowadays in the lower part of the well along the perimeter there is a fence – to exclude the possibility of bathing by local boys, as well as pilgrims and extreme tourists.
In short, a very interesting structure! And if you’re traveling by car from Jaipur to Agra, it’s definitely worth spending an hour and turn off the highway to a place called Abaneri. Such pyramidal stepped stone wells were built only in India, and Chand Baori is one of the deepest among them!
1. 1. The well is in the form of a pyramid staring down at the top, three sides of which descend in thirteen tiers, and the fourth side is decorated with arches and niches in which statues of the gods are placed.
A thousand years ago the well was the main source of fresh water for many kilometers around, but today one is not drawn to bathe in it. Even Hindus, who seem to be resistant to all kinds of filth, are forbidden to have ablutions there.
7. Columns, niches, and statues of the gods.
10. The scale of the well is impressive! The people on the upper tier seem quite small.
11. After seeing the well, we go to the village of Abaneri to see a small local temple – these days there are religious festivals in India, and all Hindu temples are full of excitement. People pray, light candles, bring flowers and fruit to the deities, and read some kind of note. Incense is smoked in the temples. To a person of a different culture all this is very incomprehensible – but very interesting!
20. Abaneri – although visited by tourists, but very simple and small village. You can go to visit one of the locals and for a few dozen rupees (one rupee is the equivalent of the ruble) to see their home and everyday life.
21. It’s not rich, but it’s neat, and the climate is hot. There is no need to build insulated houses.
22. “My grandmother smokes a pipe.” :))
24. An elderly 70-year-old woman makes earthenware.
25. The dishes are fired in this oven.
26. Next we visit the temple of Harshat Mate, the goddess of happiness and joy, next to the Chand Baori well.