Living in Delhi means stumbling across slices of history all the time. Walking from the rose garden to Haus Khaz, you could literally trip over evidence of past eras. It is a city built on many previous cities, harkening back to the 6th century BC.
Living in Bombay fast forwards to the 18th and 19th century. Once upon a time a series of islands, it was strung together during the British colonial period with most historic buildings hailing from that period. Want Victorian or Art Deco? Come to Mumbai!
Coming to Jodhpur, one expects to see the remarkable 14th century Mehrangarh Fort perched over the city, pass the clock tower (Ghanta Ghar) and visit stunning Umaid Bhawan palace.
What we didn’t expect was to accidentally come across an ancient stepwell… possibly around 1,000 years old or more.
Post our shopping, we headed to Raas Hotel to enjoy a late lunch. Our plan was to walk off our meal wandering around the area then return to Raas for sunset drinks against the backdrop of the Mehrangarh Fort.
Braving the late afternoon sun, we aimlessly strolled and heard the roar of a generator and something else… coming closer we discovered efforts to restore and clean this remarkable structure.
For those not familiar, stepwells (or bawri / baori) are remarkable structures first built in 600 AD. In a dry arid climate like much of Rajasthan and Gujarat, access to water is critical. They are literally deep wells that can be reached by a series of descending steps. Such stepwells supported centuries of water needs but fell into disuse during the colonial period as they were seen as unhygienic.
Today there are efforts to revive – both as tourist attractions and as functional ways to mitigate water shortages.
Let me be very clear – my photos do not do justice!
View from the top as sun began to set…
One of the rather young workers…
Here is one last peak down.. down… down…. If you are scared of heights? Don’t!!
While I can’t be certain, I believe we stumbled across Toowor Ji stepwell.
And as it was being worked on, there was no scope to walk down the thousands of steps. However take a gander at this short video of another step well for a better idea…
Related articles on other step wells:
I’m relieved and thrilled that efforts are being made to preserve this part of India’s history. Did you ever see the movie Paheli? I loved the stepwell early in the film.
It really is remarkable to see live… and to think they ‘cracked’ the water management issue so long ago and today we are struggling!! Obviously with billion+ people… so not exactly the same situation 🙂
And nope – haven’t seen the film Paheli. 🙂
People criticized it, but I think they were looking at it as a realistic film and not taking it for the flight of whimsy Amol Palekar meant it to be. And I’m a huge fan of SRK and Sonu Nigam, so I could be biased (not to mention Rani Mukherji looked amazing!)
Now you make me want to see it! And Rani Mukherji is always amazing 🙂
If you can watch it, do. It’s lots of fun.
Really impressive building. I don’t know how I would fair standing there or even trying to walk those stairs as I am terrified of high places 🙂
It is rather impressive and completely nerve wracking for anyone with the slightest fear of heights!
Yeah, I would most likely only take a quick peek and then run away 🙂
I’m not a massive fan of heights either. Also, cant say I was wrestling with the workers to scamper down… oh… a dozen flights of stairs. 🙂 However truly remarkable!
Now I have no fear of heights (former skydiver, present horse rider) but I couldn’t help feel a chill while watching the video at the overriding thought that a stepwell would be the perfect venue for planned or unplanned untimely deaths…and then when the dancing began, I wondered how many really did tumble??
On a brighter note, I’ll also seek out Paheli 🙂
I’ve read about stepwells but had no idea we would literally have a chance to stumble upon one! Now.. not being a former skydiver and present horse rider blaise about tumbling, I gotta admit I found looking down a bit dizzying… Hence why you don’t see crazy angle shots from the edge! 😉
Now… check out Paheli and tell me whatcha think!!! Clearly there is a fan or two out there!
Great post and spectacular pictures. You’ve done a great job. Paheli is a good movie, sad that audience here is not matured enough to grasp its twist. Talking of movies shot in Rajasthan I love Eklavya and Lamhe.
I love how a little wander around a stepwell turns to film! 🙂 I’m now feeling rather compelled to see Paheli… what a setting though!
Watch closely, because the twist in the movie plot is good to keep you guessing.
Thanks for the education. I had no idea there was a Baori in Jodhpur. It looks far lovelier than the ones in Delhi.
It really is something! Not marked on any tourist map, just a remarkable structure we stumbled upon…