The first time I heard the word ‘Baori’ was when I was in school. A friend, who was from Rajasthan, was telling some horror story about a boari in her ancestral village. It took me about two decades to actually witness boari in Rajasthan– the first one in Nahargarh Fort Jaipur and then Chand Baori in Abhaneri.
Have you seen that beautiful scene in Hindi movie ‘Paheli’ where Lacchi, the female lead, goes down into a stepwell? A blue colored bird keeps hovering around her making melodious sounds. Chand Baori was the backdrop for this scene. It made me more curious to see Chand Baori in real life.
We went to Abhaneri from Jaipur by car as it seemed the most convenient way. It took us about 2 hours to reach there. I would highly recommend you stay in Jaipur for a few days and explore the Pink city.
The inscription on the inscription stone at Chand Baori reads-
“It is one of the oldest baori (stepwell) in Rajasthan which was built by King Chand (Chandra) of Nikumbh dynasty who ruled Abaneri or ancient Abhanagari during 8th-9th century A.D. This 19.5 metre deep baori is square on plan with the entrance from north. It is provided with double flight of steps on three sides. The northern side consists of a multi-storeyed corridor supported on pillars and two projecting balconies enshrining beautiful images of Mahishasurmardini and Ganesha. The enclosure wall, side verandah and the pavilion at entrance are later additions.”
-Archaeological Survey of India
What is a stepwell?
A step-well is a man-made structure that has steps leading down towards the well or the source of water. Centuries ago, these were the main sources of water in the north-western regions of India.
Where is Chand Baori located?
Chand Baori is located in a village called Abhaneri in Dausa district of Rajasthan (India). It is about 95 Km away from Jaipur on Jaipur-Agra highway.
How to reach Chand Baori?
The best way is to hire a cab from Jaipur to Abhaneri if you want a convenient visit and don’t mind shelling out some money for it.
Alternatively, you can take a bus from Jaipur to Sikandra and then a taxi or Jeep from Sikandra to Abhaneri.
History of Chand Baori
King Chanda of the Nikumbh dynasty built Chand Baori during the 9th century. During those times, Kings and other rich people used to construct boaris as an act of philanthropy. Water scarcity was a common issue in arid zones.
These baoris or step wells provided a source of water and a place to relax during the hot and dry summer. There are many stepwells in Rajasthan and Gujrat.
Architecture of Chand Baori
Chand Baori is one of the largest stepwells of India. It is 64 feet deep, with 13 floors and about 3500 steps. The bigger steps leading down towards the water have smaller steps made on two sides of the triangular shaped structures.
There are steps on three sides of the step well and the fourth side consists of multi-storey corridors. Remains of sculptures and religious carvings are still there which would have adorned this pavilion centuries ago.
The grandeur of Chand Baori is enough to captivate anyone. The intricate and precise geometric pattern of the stepwell makes you wonder how the architects and workers created this marvel centuries ago.
The water at the bottom of the stairs looks green and murky. Probably because the baori has not been in use for long now. People have regular water supply through pipelines at their homes now and these water reservoirs are not the part and parcel of the lives of the locals anymore.
During the older times, not only these boaris provided water for the daily needs but also served as a place for the travelers to take a break from their journey and rest.
It is said that the temperature at the bottom inside boari is about 4-5 degree Celsius less than the temperature outside on the surface.
I wish I could experience that personally but as entry inside the boari is not allowed anymore, I couldn’t.
Beliefs and Myths about Chand Baori
Just like many other famous historical structures and places in India, Chand Baori also has some myths and legends linked to it.
A famous belief about this stepwell is that one can never go down and come up using the same steps. Well, that’s quite possible considering the number of similar steps and maze-like structure of Chand Baori.
Many locals believe that it was built overnight by ghosts. There are stories about it being a haunted place.
I decided to walk around.
My experience of Chand Boari
This amazing structure which was at some time an important part of the lives of the local people, is just an attraction for the visitors these days. Thanks to the internet and social media, we get to know about such interesting places so easily these days. Otherwise these would have been hidden and perhaps forgotten.
Chand Baori reminded me of the only one other baori that I had seen- baori at the Nahargarh Fort. My mind unintentionally started comparing the two. Nahargarh fort Baori was simple and elegant with long and slightly curved steps descending deep down towards the water. Chand Baori was a complex structure with a combination of small and big steps placed strategically, making it an amazing sight to look at.
Sunlight falling on the steps and the triangular layouts add a mystical look to the design of the Chand Baori. I felt as if the Baori was coming alive with the shadows moving slowly with the movement of the sun. I saw pigeons flying around the corridors adding to that old vibe of this place. Children were having fun running around the vast open space.
I decided to sit and soak in the ambience of this beauty. Historical structures always take me to the past and I can’t help imagining myself being a part of the place in some distant time.
I see tanned beautiful women clad in colorful outfits walking towards the boari with pitchers on their heads and waists. I see a few young girls frolicking around, chatting happily and sharing laughter at frequent secret jokes. Some middle aged ones use this time as a break from their monotonous lives and sing folk songs while washing their faces to get some relief from the summer heat. What a beautiful lively place this baori would have been during those times!
Harshat Mata Temple
There is an ancient temple adjoining the Chand Baori. The temple is dedicated to a goddess ‘Harshat Mata’- the goddess of happiness and joy. It is a common belief among the locals that her presence blesses the land with prosperity and happiness. People visit this temple to seek blessings and to show their gratitude towards her.
There is no ticket fee yet to visit Chand Baori. One more reason to visit it soon!
You can visit Chand Baori any time (sunrise to sunset), any day. It won’t take more than an hour or so to visit Chand baori and Harshat Mata temple.
Best time to visit Chand Baori
Keeping in mind the harsh summer heat of Rajasthan, October to March is the best time to visit Chand Baori.
Rajasthan is famous for its colorful and eventful festivals and fairs. Abhaneri Festival is held during the month of September or October. During the days of this festival, the Chand Baori comes alive with music, folk dances and cultural activities.
Many such monuments in India get overshadowed by some of the very famous ones like Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Amer Fort etc. It’s these hidden gems that make travelling more interesting for those looking for offbeat adventures.
Places to stay near Chand Baori
If you wish to stay near Chand Baori, these are some of the best places to choose from.
Located in a village, this 14th century fort is a place that would give you the real experience of living in a fort.
For those who want nothing less than a luxurious stay, Umaid Lake Palace in Dausa is the best choice.
If you plan to visit the Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary nearby then this is the right place to stay. It is located in the buffer zone of Sariska National Park.