Shiva’s Cistern – The Abhaneri Step Well
The Chand Baori step well at Abhaneri is everything but a staircase wit. Its unconventional architecture guarantees to the Rajputs, who are usually living in a dry region a water supply being usable throughout the whole year. Due to being surrounded by dozens of stairs, people can access the well from literally every side and when having a closer look at its structures and design, you will easily find yourself not only stuck in a maze of thousands steps but also able to see Shiva’s beauty.
At first glance Abhaneri seems to be a small Rajasthan village that is living its life in the shadow of its big brother Jaipur. Being located about 100 kilometres far in the east, Abhaneri and it’s step well, called Chand Baori yb the locals, is definitely worth a day trip as your eyes will be caught by highly symmetric maze of steps and stairs framed by classic Hindu architecture. Even in the homeland of the Hindu such a masterpiece can’t be found around next corner.
The well’s sheer endlessly appearing geometric complexity made of stairs and steps ensures that Rajput people have access to water at any time of the year. Despite its open architecture the well has its own microclimate as at the bottom it’s always about 5-6 degrees cooler than on earth level and in the sun. Rajasthan is a dry place, though the well isn’t only meant as rain catching funnel. The water at the bottom is seeping in from the bottom as well from the sides and the used bricks used to build the well are porous, hence the water gets additionally filtered. Nowadays the well doesn’t get fully filled up to its rim anymore. Only in monsoon the water level is rising up to the second fence, up to 2-3 metres.
The dark and porous stones the well is made of are of volcanic origin. The contrast between bright seams and sable bricks underlines the somehow extra-terrestrial and monochrome character as well as the symmetry of this place. On the portal on the head side the elephant-like God Ganesha is displayed. The portal also houses washing facilities, one for the men on the left and one for the women on the right side.
The 1200 year old well of Abhaneri is a class one monument in India, hence playing in the same league as Fatehpur Sikri or the Taj Mahal. Due to local authorities I was exclusively allowed to get behind the fence and descend down to the well’s bottom as usually tourists may have a look from the upper rim only. That single perspective is not bad though and the day trip to Abhaneri is worth to be done, but please plan to spend 2 or 2.5 hours on driving from Jaipur as the traffic at the toll stations can be a little mad.