OFFBEAT

That’s Strange-VII: Watch Your Step At Chand Baori

Aditi Jindal

Last updated: Apr 3, 2017

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Eat

Kachori from Raawat Mishthan Bhandaar
Lal Maas, curried meat in curd and spices
Rajasthani thali at one of the local shops around the many forts

Shop

Kundan jewellery and Jaipuri quilts at Bapu Bazaar
Silver earrings, lac bangles, leather juttis at Johari Bazaar
Neerja at Gopal Pura Bye Pass for blue pottery

Click

Sunset shots at Amer Fort
Hawa Mahal jharokha selfies

Greetings

Hello/Good Morning/Good Evening: Khamma Ghani Sa, Ram Ram Sa
What is your name?: Aapro naum kai hai?
How much does this cost?: Kitte rau hai?

Filmy

Many college scenes from "Rang De Basanti" were shot at Nahargarh Fort
Jodhaa Akbar was shot in the backdrop of the Amer Fort
Other movies shot in Jaipur: Mughal-e-Azam, Bhool Bhulaiyaa and Veer

Want To Go ? 
   

 

Mr. Howard Roark, was that you who created this masterpiece? I wondered as I stood in front of this gigantic staircase with endless steps and architectural symmetry that is both mindboggling and hard to believe. A never-seen-before structure that reminds you of one of the sketches from Ayn Rand’s all-time bestseller, The Fountainhead!

Let me introduce you to the deepest step well in the world, Chand Baori (literally translated as ‘Moon Well’). A few kilometres drive from JaipurRajasthanI visited this quaint little town called Abhaneri only to catch a glimpse of this magnificent well that has been featured in blockbuster Hollywood movies like The Fall and The Dark Knight Rises. Named after King Chanda of the Nikumbha dynasty, some say that Chand Baori was built by him between 800 and 900 centuries to counter the problem of water shortage in the arid land of Abhaneri.
 

chand-baori-temple
A Masterpiece!

Journey to the ‘Moon Well’ and Back

One fine but really hot afternoon, I visited Chand Baori only to notice there was something rare and out of this world about this place. It had a rare environ with echoing and unwelcoming sounds of pigeons and crows screeching aloud in the background. At first glance, it looked like a square-shaped step well standing witness to time, surrounded by steps (almost 3500 of them!) on three sides and a fort on the northern side with a series of rooms, balconies, corridors and a stage for the royalty. But the next moment as I stepped inside one of the passageways, my olfactory sense was in for a real shock. A strange smell overpowered me so much that I was forced to use my handkerchief to block it out. I then saw the several bat eyes blinking at me and realised the real source of this pungent sulphuric stench. 

chand-baori-well
Watch Your Step

Steps and Steps Everywhere…

A deeper look at the step well made me realise that today would be the day when the strength of my legs will truly be tested. As I went down the 13 storeys, I saw that the well was brimming with untouched water that shone a bright green hue due to the algae offering a brilliant contrast to the dark ageing steps. After a tiring climb down, I finally reached the bottom and gave a mental salute to the artisans who dug 100 feet below the ground to create this mystical marvel.
chand-baori-steps

Standing beside the well, I looked at the brilliant maze above and realised how deep I had ventured this time. As much as a pain it was getting down, the thought of how to make it to the top was another horror story altogether. No matter how hard I tried to figure out my path, I would get lost in the maze. Not being one to give up, I prodded along while soaking in the sights and finally reached where I started from almost an hour ago. 

 

chand-baori-temple-building
Chand Baori: A Ghostly Affair...


Touch of the Supernatural

 

Back in the town, as is habit, I went to a local restaurant to try some of the regional delicacies. So over some delicious gatte ki sabzi and dal baati choorma, I heard from the locals that this architectural masterpiece is believed to be built by ghosts in just one night. ‘What!’, I exclaimed and all of a sudden everything fell in place- the eerie air, the screeching sounds of the birds, the bats waiting in the passageway, the untouched water and the feeling of being lost at the bottom of the baori. I don’t believe in the supernatural but the unexplainable weird sense that followed me inside the Chand Baori could only be felt when you’re there.