Monday 17 December 2012

A thirteen storied well and a temple of happiness

This well is thirteen stories high with 3,500 steps leading down to the earth and it is more than 100 feet deep. Meet one of the wonders of ancient India-the Chand Baori or well, which is generally acknowledged to be the deepest step well in the world.
This magnificent structure is close to Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. It is in a small village called Abhaneri and it was built sometime in the ninth century by Raja Chand, a Nikambha Rajput ruler of the Chamana dynasty.    
The first thing that strike the eye is the large number of steps that it built down in a symmetrically designed manner. The steps number a mindboggling 3,500 and there are thirteen landings to cushion your descend.
The stairs are in the form of an inverted V in patters of four and five steps on three sides of the well.
The Raja constructed the well to solve the water problem of the area. His subjects had to dig more than 100 feet to get water and this made the Raja to think of a Baoli which would be a permanent source of water.
Locals say the well was constructed in a day by ghosts. This is disputed by archaeologists and historians who say the ghost story was a yarn spun by the locals to ensure that thieves did nit get down the well and steal water.
The water here was once cool to drink and pure. Today, it is greenish as it is not being used. The well is fortified on all sides and today it is under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India.  
This well has been the setting of several Hollywood and Bollywood movies including the 1998 film, The Fall, where a group of dancers gyrated on platforms connecting two sets of steps. Another film shot here is The Dark Knight Rises.
The song from Sakhiya Sakhiya from the Akshaya Kumar film Bhool Bhooliya and Mera Dil Dil Mera from Salaam E Ishq have been filmed here.
The beautiful temple of  Harshad Mata, an eighth century monument. 
This temple, in ancient times, was known as the temple of happiness. This was so as the goddess Durga which is consecrated here was believed to be a deity which always spread happiness among the villagers of  Abhaneri.
The Goddess is always believed to be cheerful.
The temple, though in ruins is beautiful to look at. There are carvings of Vishnu. Legend has it that Raja Bhoj of the Gurjar dynasty built it in the 9th century.  Others say Emperor Chand built the temple and designed it in the Gupta style of architecture.
Muhammad Ghazni defaced the idols and the temple during the  11th century. The local community strongly believes in the power of Harshad Mata, as the Mother of their land
Like the temple and the well, the village too seems to be in a partly ruined state. Abhaneri is also famous for several local dances such as Goomar, Kalbelia and Bhawai. The Nikumba Rajputs, also called Chauhan Rajputs, abandoned this place and settled down at Alwar. Locals believe that an ancient city is still buried under the huge sand mound nearby.
Abhaneri is a small village in Dausa district in north Rajasthan, 95 kms from Jaipur, towards the Jaipur-Agra highway. The nearest airport is Jaipur.
There is another famous temple of Harshad Mata near Porbander in Gujarat.

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