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Step Wells Of India


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  • Dear, I am working for revive the Stepwell of Gujarat since 3 years. Your presentation is really interested and also helpful. Thank you so much
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  • D/Sir
    This is the best presentation I have seen-In 2007 had done a Somnath teerth yatra and saw Rani ki Vaav step well in Patan Gujarat- --it is amazing - but I wonder why such design was all left out and neglected-Today 'Kutcha wells' -no protection or steps in many villages in India esp South are seen --Even if grand architecture is not attempted a pucca cement /stone step D/Sir This is the best presentation I have seen-In 2007 had done a Somnath teerth yatra and saw Rani ki Vaav step well in Patan arrangement is possible with walls to prevent any accidental fall-

    Above all to have Rain Catchment in Monsoon -rainy season -Today rain water is just lost in any places -and drains to the main Drainage system -gets wasted and to the sea-whilst a city may face Water Shortage -
    In Chennai and many places in India this is seen ---will be happy to share on this further Rgds

    Thanks again
    CaptTR (Retd )
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Step Wells Of India

  1. 1. Stepwells, also called bawdi or baoli are wells in which the water can be reached by descending a set of steps. They may be covered and protected, and are often of architectural significance. It can be multi-storied also in which a bullock turns the water wheel ("Rehant") to raise the water in the well to the first or second floor. They are most common in the west of India. They may be also found in the other more arid regions of the subcontinent, extending into Pakistan. The construction may be utilitarian, but sometimes includes significant architectural embellishments. A number of distinct names, sometimes local, exist for stepwells. In Hindi speaking regions, they include names based on baudi (including bawdi, bawri, baoli, bavadi). In Gujarati and Marwari language, they are usually called vav. All forms of the stepwell may be considered to be particular examples of the many types of storage and irrigation tanks that were developed in India, mainly to cope with seasonal fluctuations in water availability. A basic difference between stepwells on the one hand, and tanks and wells on the other, was to make it easier for people to reach the ground water, and to maintain and manage the well.
  2. 2. In some related types of structure (johara wells), ramps were built to allow cattle to reach the water. The majority of surviving stepwells originally also served a leisure purpose, as well as providing water. This was because the base of the well provided relief from daytime heat, and more such relief could be obtained if the well was covered. This led to the building of some significant ornamental and architectural features, often associated with dwellings and in urban areas. It also ensured their survival as monuments. Stepwell construction is known to have gone on from at least 600 AD. Most existing stepwells date from the last 800 years. There are suggestions that they may have originated much earlier, and there are some suggestions that precursors to them can be seen in the Indus Valley civilisation. Numbers of surviving stepwells can be found in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra. There are also smaller numbers elsewhere including in the British isles where the water source is close to the surface [now covered over at Rooskey in Co. Leitrim}. Significant ones include;
  3. 3. The Rani Ki Vav, Patan, Gujarat Agrasen ki Baoli, New Delhi The Rani ki vav at Patan, Gujarat, The Adalaj ni Vav at Adalaj, Gandhinagar, Gujarat and Chandinath ki vav of Bhinmal. In Neemrana (Rajasthan), when arriving from New Delhi Raniji ki Baori in Bundi, Rajasthan The Pushkarani monument at Vijayanagara, Karnataka Some in Amber, including the 'Panna Meena ka Kund' and 'Sarai Bawdi' Several existing structures in Delhi, including a recent pre-Mughal finding in the Red Fort The Sharenshwar ni vav at Halvad, Gujarat. The great Mughal emperor Babur recorded in his memoirs that he built a baoli in Agra Fort, India. The baoli was completed after the battle of Khanua in 1527 and Babur placed an inscription there to this effect. Babur actually used two "Rehant's" to carry the water to a higher level. This was altered when Akbar built his palaces (1565-1573). It was necessary to use a third Rehant to raise water. Therefore a three-storeyed water pavilion was erected at the mouth of the second well and three overhead tanks were built on its roof. Water from Babur's baoli was conducted into these tanks. This plan was again altered when Shah Jahani Mahal was built. Massive walls were raised in the middle of Babur's baoli and the rooms were closed up. Alternative arrangements of water supply to the overhead tanks was made. Babur's baoli is now buried in the basement apartments is only partially accessible. The overhead tanks with inscribed tablets have survived intact.
  4. 4. Chand Baori, Step Well, India Chand Baori, in the village of Abhaneri near Bandikui, Rajasthan. Stepwells, also called bawdi or baoli are in essence wells in which the water can be reached by descending a set of steps. They may be covered and protected, and are often of architectural significance. Chand Baori well is 30 meters deep, it has 13 floors and 3,500 steps. Built back in the 10th century, the incredible well of Chand Baori, India was a practical solution to the water problem in the area. The arid climate forced the locals to dig deep for a dependable water source, one that would last throughout an entire year. Legends say that ghosts build it in one night and that it has so many steps to make it impossible for someone to retrieve a coin once it's been dropped in the well.
  5. 5. Rani Ki Ji Baori, Bundi The small city of Bundi, Rajasthan is sometimes called "The City of Stepwells" for the more than 50 wells in and around the city. The Rani Ki Ji, or "Queen's Stepwell" is the most famous. It was built in 1699 by the spurned second wife of the king, who was cast aside after she bore him an heir. She turned her energies to public projects, building nearly 20 wells, including the 46 meter Rani Ki Ji. 40 feet wide at the top, 200 steps descend to the water. Stepwell at the lost city of Vijayanagara, Karnataka In the lost city of Vijayanagara there is a large step pond style well near the ruins of Hampi, similar to Chand Boari, but with four symmetrical sides.
  6. 6. Agrasen Ki Baoli, New Delhi In 2002, more than two months of digging removed centuries of silt and trash from the Agrasen well in Delhi. Located close to the the famous Jantar Mantar observatory, the well is deep and rectangular in shape, 60 meters long, by 15 meters wide, with with 103 steps, some of which are submerged. The construction dates is unknown, but it most likely dates to the mid 1300s. A new appreciation for these wells come both from renewed cultural and architectural pride, but also in realizing that the ancient system of holding water still makes a lot of sense.
  7. 7. The Rani Vav (Queen's well) at Patan, built during the late eleventh century, is probably the most magnificent step-well in Gujarat. Multi-storey colonnades and retaining walls link a stepped tank to a deep circular well. Throughout, the ornamentation is sumptuous. Columns, brackets and beams are encrusted with scrollwork and the wall niches are carved with figures. Hindu deities alternate with alluring maidens on the walls flanking the staircase. Its monumental construction and ornate treatment suggest that it also served a ritual ceremonial purpose.
  8. 8. One of the earliest of these step-wells is the Mata Bhavani's vav at Ahmedabad, built in the eleventh century. The water is approached by a long flight of steps above which rises a sequence of two, three and four storey open pavilions. The elaborate ornamentation of the columns, brackets and beams, and the friezes of motifs are in the Solanki school of temple architecture.
  9. 9. The Dada Harir's vav at Ahmedabad, together with the vav at Adalaj, is the finest example of the Muslim period. The Dada Harir's vav is modeled on the earlier Mata Bhavani's vav, though it has an additional domed pavilion at the entrance. One striking feature of this vav is the complete absence of figural themes. The motifs in stylized scrollwork that adorn the wall niches may be compared with those that appear in Islamic architecture. The vav at Adalaj, located 12 miles north of Ahmedabad, is octagonal. As the long flight of steps descend, columns and connecting beams create open structures of increasing complexity; the receding perspectives of columns and cross-beams are particularly striking. Wall niches incorporate miniature pilasters, eaves and roof-like pediments.