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HILLMAN INDIA ADVENTURE
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North India: Gallery 19
ABANERI STEP WELL
( Chand Baori )
www.hillmanweb.com/india/north/n19.html

CONTENTS
PHOTO GALLERIES and TRAVEL NOTES
01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20
21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 |
Abhaneri Step Well is spectacular. It's a place one has to see to believe how amazing the architecture is. While exploring the site our CEO Parakrum gave us a lot of information. The well site was discovered not that long ago, and only discovered because there is a temple close by. Wherever there is a temple, there has to be a source of water for the worshippers to cleanse before entering. All along the sides of the top of the steps are huge blocks of carved stone that were part of the old temple. The temple is no longer in service.

Water in the architecture of India could be found since the earliest times and had played an important role in the culture. Stepwells were first used as an art form by the Hindus and then popularized under Muslim rule. Stepwells are wells or ponds in which the water may be reached by descending a set of steps. They may be covered and protected and are often of architectural significance. They also may be multi-storied having a bullock which may turn the water wheel ("rehat") to raise the water in the well to the first or second floor. 

All forms of the stepwell are examples of the many types of storage and irrigation tanks that were developed in India, mainly to cope with seasonal fluctuations in water availability. A basic difference between stepwells on the one hand, and tanks and wells on the other, was to make it easier for people to reach the ground water, and to maintain and manage the well.

The majority of surviving step wells originally also served a leisure purpose, as well as providing water. This was because the base of the well provided relief from daytime heat, and more of such relief could be obtained if the well was covered. Step wells also served as a place for social gatherings and religious ceremonies. Usually, women were more associated with these wells because they were the ones who collected the water. Also, it was they who prayed and offered gifts to the goddess of the well for her blessings. This led to the building of some significant ornamental and architectural features, often associated with dwellings and in urban areas. It also ensured their survival as monuments.

Stepwells usually consist of two parts: a vertical shaft from which water is drawn and the surrounding inclined subterranean passageways, chambers and steps which provide access to the well. The galleries and chambers surrounding these wells were often carved profusely with elaborate detail and became cool, quiet retreats during the hot summers.

In 1864, the famous French world traveler Louis Rousselet described "[a] vast sheet of water, covered with lotuses in flower, amid which thousands of aquatic birds are sporting" at the shores of which bathers washed, surrounded by jungle greenery. He was not describing a lakeside scene or one of India's famous riverside ghats, but an ancient well, as big as a large pond.


Past the Harshat Mata Temple and into the adjoining Step Well


GALLERY 19

ABHANERI STEP WELL :: TEMPLE CARVINGS :: WEDDING
1. Stepwell  ::  2. Carvings ::  3.  Wedding


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