Indian Stepwell (Baori)

Indian Stepwell (Baori)

Trip Alfresco

In this historical architectural feature, a succession of steps that lead people down to a well to manage the water more easily than in a traditional well dug into the ground is a Stepwell. Stepwells are still known popularly in India as “Baori,” from the term used in the north-western state of Rajasthan.

Stepwell in Hampi, Karnataka (Southern India)

These stepwells served to store groundwater in order to guard against scarcity in times of drought, and to irrigate farmland. However, a key purpose of these stepwells lay in their social function, as these wells were often covered and winds blowing across them often ensured a cool space where people could congregate and ward off the heat, as in modern swimming pool arenas. Not surprisingly therefore, many of these stepwells, especially the ones in palaces and forts, were ornamented with elaborate sculptures and architectural devices such as colonnades and arched windows. At times these stepwells also served as tanks for the local temple, especially in south-western India.

While the cylindrical reservoirs of the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation offered some precedent for impressive stepwells in the medieval era, some of the most breath-taking examples of stepwells are found from the Mughal era though the 16thto mid-19th centuries. Although stepwells eventually fell into disuse, as British colonial administrators replaced water supply systems by modern mechanisms of pump and pipe, stepwells continue to fascinate specialists and casual onlookers alike, whether intact or as picturesque ruins.

Adalaj Vav in Gujarat

In today’s world, where the management of water resources has become an issue of critical ecological importance, stepwells give us a glimpse of smart architecture designed for warm weather before the availability of electricity and air-conditioning.

Trip Alfresco, in partnership with a team of subject experts from the Archaeological Survey of India, offers you a package that can be customised fully to your needs as an individual or as a group, enabling you to explore a number of stepwells in detail, as well as the surrounding buildings and landscape, and the history, lore and culture of the people of each region.

We also plan to conduct a series of video webinars about this topic of stepwell in different regions of Indian. The webinar would cover a introduction, slightly deeper architectural perspective and understanding of these beautiful ancient structures. We welcome interested individuals and associations to contact us who are keen to learn and be a part of this webinar session.