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!
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!
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: