Located at the edge of the Thar desert and seared by the summer heat, water shortages in the northern Indian State of Rajasthan, can cause profound problems. Despite being drenched by torrential seasonal monsoons, these waters are absorbed quickly by the porous rocks and silty soils of the surrounding arid landscape.
Summer temperatures routinely reach a punishing 38°C/100°F, so stepwells, a merciful oasis at the bottom of a set of descending steps, were developed to provide relief for both travellers and locals alike. The Chand Baori stepwell is one of the oldest and most astonishing landmarks in Rajasthan. Built by King Chanda of the Chauhan Dynasty between AD 800 and AD 900, the completed masterpiece was dedicated to Hashat Mata, Goddess of Joy and Happiness.
Stepwells are unique to India and the earliest date back as far as 500AD. Since then, over 3000 were built in Rajasthan, and its neighbouring state Gujarat. As with all stepwells, the design and structure of Chand Baori was intended to conserve as much water as possible. In addition to supplying water, stepwells enjoy their own micro climates at their base – indeed, at the bottom of Chand Baori, the air remains 5-6 degrees cooler than at the surface. It was only natural then that Chand Baori became renowned as a community gathering place for locals, and a welcome rest stop for travellers, during periods of intense heat.
Chand Baori consists of 3,500 Escher-like narrow steps, distributed over 13 storeys. It extends approximately 30 m (100 ft) into the ground, and its steps are arranged in exquisite, perfect symmetry. It is an almost dizzying array. During the monsoon season the well has been known to fill up almost to the top, but the steps allow access all year around. The well was specifically constructed of dark porous volcanic rock so that, even out of monsoon season, water can collect in the stepwell from the edges and the earth underground.
Chand Baori’s large open mouth is an ideal rain catcher. The stepwell narrows as it descends towards the water pool below. A double flight of steps surround the well on three sides, with the fourth side featuring a set of pavilions built one atop another. The pavilion side features intricately carved windows, two projecting balconies and niches with ornate sculptures and religious carvings. There is a temple, a stage for the performing arts and even a royal residence with a pavilion and rooms for the King and the Queen. In recent times, Chand Baori has provided an other-worldly backdrop to movie productions such as The Fall, The Dark Knight Rises, and Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
Constructed 1200 years ago, Chand Baori is an architectural and engineering marvel; an example of how Greatness can be achieved, borne out of necessity and ingenuity, while being simultaneously beautiful - a tacit union of grace and purpose. At Tomkins, we aim to support the pursuit of Greatness with that vision to try – sometimes creatively - different things, and to continuously support you in the construction of your of own success.