India has seen many rulers and invaders and each of them has gifted India with their own architectural wonder. And that is why you can witness every type of architecture decorating every nook of the country. Baolis or ‘Step wells’ narrate the beauty of their era with their marvellous sculptors and artwork. Although, their principal job was to store water in the ancient period, but we all know kings used to everything in style. Hence, India is blessed with the most beautiful and ancient Baolis which are known for the awe-gaping historic beauty. Here is the list of top Baolis that may like to visit anytime soon.
1. Chandi Baori, Rajasthan
Located in the small village of Abhaneri in Rajasthan, this beautiful Baoli was built thousands of years ago by King Chanda somewhat in the 9th century. Chandi Baoli is one of the largest and the most astonishing Baolis of India in terms of its architecture. The 3,500 small steps built in the perfect symmetry takes you 20 m down to the well. The beauty of this Baoli can also be seen in the number of Bollywood films, Paheli, being the famous one. The beauty of this magnificent beauty has also been used in the famous Hollywood flicks such as Dark Knight rises and Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
2. Agrasen ki Baoli, Delhi
Located in the heart of capital city, amidst the concrete jungle of Delhi, it is not just the architecture that this Boali is famous for. In fact, more than its historic value you will know Agrasen ki Baoli has one of the haunted places in India. The Baoli was originally built by Maharaja Agrasen during Mahabharat era and later rebuilt by the Agrawal community in the 14th century. Agrasen ki Baoli is a wonderful structure of 103 steps made entirely with the red stones. During its prime, this Baoli used to be filled with the black water and it was believed to be possessed by the evil spirits. Many people have committed suicide in this Baoli and hence it is considered amongst the most haunted places in India. What so ever the stories may be Agrasen ki Baoli still remains as one of the architectural beauty of the capital city.
3. Rani ki Vav, Gujarat
The queen’s stepwell as it is commonly known, Rani Ka Vav is enlisted in the UNESCO world’s heritage sites. Located on the banks of river Saraswati, this Baoli was originally built as a memorial to King Bhimdev by his widow, Queen Udayamati, in 3rd millennium BC. The brilliant craftsmanship can be seen in its seven-level structure. The Baoli in its architecture engraves more than 500 principle sculptures and over a thousand minor which combines religious, mythological and secular imagery.
4. Hampi Pushkarani, Karnataka
Hampi was considered as one of the oldest and richest city during its prime. The ruins of Hampi which is listed in the UNESCO world’s heritage sites draws in a huge amount of traffic each year. One such attraction of the Hampi’s architecture wonder is the Hampi Pushkarani. The Pushkarani tanks in Hampi are the example of Chalukya architecture built in the 15th century. Pushkaranis were the sacred tanks attached to the temples. The unique feature of this stepwell is that water is filled by aqueduct similar to the Roman architecture. The beauty of Hampi Pushkarani lies in it’s symmetrical architectural which is beautifully adorned with the 15th century- styled carvings and sculptors.
5. Adalaj Vav, Gujarat
Another remarkable step-well of India is Adalaj Vav, which is not only known for its architectural artwork but also for its spiritual importance. Adalaj Vav was partially built by Queen Rudabai in 1499. This step-well is a wonderful marvel of the Indo-Islamic architecture and design. 75 meters below the ground lies the five-storey step-well with octagonal landings and walls protecting the beauty of this monument. The lower part of the step-well do not receive any sunlight except for a small period of time in noon and hence the temperature inside the well is 6 degrees lower than the actual temperature. The beauty of the step-well lies in its detailed architecture which holds numerous images of the flowers, leaves, fish blending the Indian artwork with the Islamic beauty.
6. Modhera step-well, Gujarat
Located inside the premises of Modhera Sun temple, dedicated to the Sun God is the Surya Kund which holds a great spiritual significance for the devotees. The step-well is not too deep but it is wide and is adorned with the 108 auspicious Hindu sculptors. What distinguishes this step-well from others is the presence of numerous temples around the Surya Kund, which are dedicated to various Hindu Gods. The position of the Surya Kund is another distinctive feature of the tank which holds the mesmerizing reflection of the temple in the morning and evening.
7. Rajon Ki Baoli, Delhi
Located in Mehrauli Archaeological Park in the capital city, is the Rajon Ki Baoli which is famous for its architecture that can be dated back to Lodhi sultanate. Built by Daulat Khan, it is dedicated to the Rajons, which means masons and not kings. Another historic wonder that lies close in the proximity of this step-well is Dargah of Qutb-ud-din Bakhtiyar Kaki, the man who brought to Delhi the legacy of Sufism adding another reason to the beauty of this Baoli.
8. Lakkundi Step-wells, Karnataka
Lukkundi is another marvelous ruin of the history which settles in the Gadang district of Karnataka. Gadang is a small town which is located on the way to Hampi. The small unexplored place on the map of the country boasts of some of the most magnificent Indian architectures that highly reflects off the Hinduism. The whole complex of Lakkundi is dotted with various Chalukyan style step-wells. Amidst them, you will find the unmatched beauty of Muskina Bavi step-well which is located on the premises of The Manikeswara temple.
9. Dada Harir Vav, Gujarat
Dada Hari Vav, built by Dada Harir, who was a household lady of Mehmud Begda, in 1509. This step-well lies just adjacent to the tomb of Dada Hari where its builder was buried. Dada Hari ki Vav is considered as the most complicated structures of Ahmedabad owing to its elaborate carvings made from the typical Gujarati stones. The main agenda of this step-well was to provide the travellers with cool water and place to relax. The 5 storey deep well which is octagonal in the plan at the top is a beautiful artwork which highly depicts of the Indo- Islamic architecture.
10. Gandhak Ki Baoli, Delhi
Located in the Mehrauli village complex in the capital city, is the Gandhak ki Baoli built between 1210 and 1235 AD, during the reign of the Delhi Sultanate emperor Shams-ud-din Iltutmish. The Baoli which is constructed in the typical Indo-Islamic design is a five- storey deep well which takes you down to the water level in 105 steps. It is one of the very few baolis in India which are still in use. Even today if you visit the Baoli, you will find it filled with water and people diving or bathing in its stagnant water. The step-well is brimmed with the Sulphur-rich water which used to possess the curative powers during its prime.
Baolis are definitely one of the most useful and beautiful piece of architecture that India is blessed with. A visit to these historic Baolis is a must before they loose their identity. Plan your trip to these Baolis and do come back home with tons of photographs with the beautiful artefacts adorning the backdrop.