Local women crossing Chand Baori, Jaipur, India 15 Nov 2016
About this photo
Stepwells – wells or pools reached by a series of steps – are found throughout India, and vary in size and design. Chand Baori, located in the ancient village of Abhaneri near Jaipur in Rajasthan, is one of the country’s largest and most impressive. It was built more than 1,000 years ago (in the 9th century), claims 3,500 narrow steps over 13 storeys, and extends 100ft (30 metres) into the ground. Its precise geometric pattern is particularly striking. Stairs lead down to the well on three sides; the fourth is a beautiful three-storey pavilion with intricately carved galleries with pillars and projecting balconies.
The structure’s depth – and the cool water in its centre – keeps the well cool. It used to function as a gathering place for village dwellers during especially hot periods. Today Chand Baori enjoys another rather glitzier role, featuring in films such as The Dark Knight Rises and the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
To explore some splendid historical sites around India, try Insight Guides’ India: From the Ganges to the Golden Triangle trip.