Step Wells of India

Panchmadi mosque and stepwell

Panchmadi mosque and stepwell

I was reading about ancient methods of water management and I came across the step wells of India. They are pretty cool examples of ancient engineering, built long before the discovery of electricity, and I thought I would share some pictures of the wells in the great subcontinent. Most common in western India, these structures serve(d) both an aesthetic and utilitarian function. India is known for its heavy monsoon rains and arid seasons, resulting in dramatically inconsistent access to water. These enormous step wells allowed the Indian populations to harvest the rain water and store it away for later use. Some wells are even equipped with ramps to allow cattle to access the waters. I would consider the practice of rainwater collection to be an ecofriendly predecessor to the hydroelectric dam, allowing for irrigation and water resource management without detrimental effects to ecosystems and upriver pollution levels.

Stepwell in Bawdi

Stepwell in Bawdi

The stepwells pictured would have been used predominantly for leisurely purposes and as an escape from the heat of the arid surrounding environment. This accounts for the decorative architecture and elaborate design. Most of the wells that served primarily agrarian purposes have not survived the centuries, due mostly to a lack of maintenance and the demanding nature of India’s seasons.

Water well

Bhandarej

This is the deepest stepweell in the world. Known as Chand Baori, the well is located in the village of Abhaneri near Bandikui, Rajasthan. The structure is an amazing work of ancient engineering.

Chand Baori


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