The stunning grand step wells are one of the exclusive architectural pieces of India. In Rajasthan, these step wells are commonly known as Baori or Bawdi and are excellent source for water harvesting. Apart from the most apparent objective, i.e. serving as a major source of drinking water in hot summers when the soil of other water bodies is rendered ineffective for the retain water, step wells are also often used as a cool refuge from the hot climatic conditions of the state. When the arid surrounding areas around step wells of Rajasthan smolder at 45° centigrade, the base of these step wells can be up to ten degrees cooler.
Though the above-mentioned were the common utilities of these structures at the times of their construction, now their awe-inspiring charisma serve more as an architecture enthusiast and tourist magnet than anything else. The steps on the side walls of the step wells create almost hallucinatory effects with its semi-symmetry. Moreover, the religious significance of water has contributed to the construction of elaborative structures that has indubitably increased the architectonic worth of some of these unique structures. Here are 2 of the most impressive step wells of Rajasthan that have captured global attention for their astounding architecture.
With 3500 narrow steps that go down for whopping 13 storeys, Chand Baori has to be in the top of this list. Considered as one of the biggest wells on the globe, and definitely the biggest step well of India, it is also one of the oldest constructions of its kind. It was built in the late 8th century by King Chanda of Nikumbh Empire to answer the water-related crisis of the area. It is believed that the step well is dedicated to a folk deity named Harshat Mata, Goddess associated with bliss and joy, something which this construction must have had brought to the area in the drier years. The structure has attracted people from around the world and was even featured in hit movies like ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and ‘The Fall’.
Also known as the city of step wells, Bundi is famous for numerous such magnificent creations. There are over 80 step wells in and around the town; none, however, is as magnificent as the Raniji ki Baori. Built on the commands of Queen Nathavati, wife of Rao Raja Anirudh Singh, Raniji ki Baori is a superior specimen of the 17th-century architecture of the area. The step well has three stories, each with attractions of their own. The entrance to the well is allowed from the second floor that has intricately carved archway. On the pillars stand depreciated figures of elephants made of marble. On the walls are created some niches, where one can find damaged statues of Hindu deities that foretell the antiquity of the structure. The other notable architectural feature of the place is the stonework carvings on pillars and walls, that all go too well together to amplify the beauty of this great step well.