From a tourist’s perspective; the state of Rajasthan, India is a complete package to indulge in. This place is filled with numerous points of attractions. From Royal palaces to strong forts, from beautiful lakes to deserted lands, from haunted stories to folk celebrations, whether you want to immerse yourself into the luxurious royal life or shop or eat or go for camel safari; this place has a unique thing to offer to an every individual visiting Rajasthan. However, among all these, Abhaneri village stands a bit aside! It is a beautiful small village located about 97 Kms away from the capital city Jaipur, more specifically on Jaipur- Agra road in Dausa district.
While I was on my way to Agra, I decided to visit Abhaneri for its famous stepwell “Chand Baori” (Baori means “Well”). When I surfed more about this place and pictures, I realized that I have seen this place somewhere. But where exactly that I was not remembering. I gave many guesses like I might have read it in a book, either in History chapters or in a Geography book. And finally, after stressing my brain for a long, I remembered that I have seen this place in movie named “Paheli” directed by Amol Paleker.
It was long back when I was in my graduation, had booked movie tickets and there I was, in a cinema hall, totally confused with the movie story of a Ghost (Shaharukh Khan) falling in love with a pretty actress (Rani Mukherjee)! May be the story was so wired that I now remembered everything about it (Please excuse me, if you loved that movie. I have no intentions to hurt anyone’s sentiments). By the way, even Hollywood movies like The Dark knight Rises and The Fall have been shot at this place.
Okay, so let’s go back to our main motto of travelling! It was dark at 5 A.M. when I left Jaipur for Abhaneri, with maps and well placed direction boards reaching to this village was not a difficult task. It took one and half hour to touch this place. I could see smoke rising up to the sky, giving me indication that I was approaching village. I saw people sitting around small fireplace grabbing some warmth and chitchatting on a cold yet refreshing winter morning. Children were already on their way to schools and were looking happy in their blue and white uniforms.
What to see at Abhaneri, Rajasthan:
This step-well lies just at the beginning of a village and very easy to locate. Chand Baori is the most attractive landmarks in Rajasthan built by King Chanda between 800 and 900 AD. It is believed to be one of the oldest stepwells in Rajasthan. When the construction was completed, King dedicated this Step-well to Harshat Mata (Goddess of Joy and Happiness). Rajasthan is arid region and dedication of the step-well was a faith of King that Goddess will shower her blessings in the form of rain.
The architecture of this well is super precise and totally serves the purpose for conserving water. The 3,500 steps create wonderful artistic patterns on the wall and climbing up and down these steps looked to me a great fun. But, when you look down at the center of this well, you might feel little dizzy (Vertigo effect) due the 12 storeyed descending patterns of these steps.
This stepwell has steps on three sides, while on one side there is a special arrangement to sit for Royal families. The area around well is quite big and this very same place was in use for community gatherings. At present, this well is not active and has been barricaded from all the sides.
The floor surrounding to this well has many small compartments which house idols of Hindu God and Goddesses. You will also notice many stone pillars carved marvelously in the premises. Some of these carvings also show resemblance to Khajuraho Temple figures stipulating that art was traveled from Madhya Pradesh to all the way to Rajasthan.
When asked to caretaker about these rock cut outs, he informed that, there is a temple of Harshat Mata and once upon time, these cuttings were the part of this temple. Many villagers come to this temple for the blessing of this Goddess.
Sun was totally out by this time. I looked around and in a view; there were beautiful landscapes of green fields. Village was becoming more alive with buzzing market. The outskirt of “Chand Baori” is surrounded by many small shops, tea stalls and vegetable market.
Being a tea lover, I automatically started walking towards tea stall but I was hold back by a potter, who was making cups on a clay wheel. For an instance, I felt an urge to try my hands of wheels and surprisingly potter allowed it with a big smile. He also guided me on the speed of wheel, position of hands and the pressure to put on the clay. After two attempts I could make one cup which was looking more like a pot rather than cup. I had little chitchat with potter and his wife and then headed towards first TEA of the day!
What to eat for breakfast :
In breakfast, most famous items include Kachori (fried Puri) and Jalebi (Sweets). We all know about Kachori chat which comes with spicy green chutney, sweet red chutney and curd; however Kachori with Kadhi was something new for me and I bet you will also enjoy it thoroughly.
Where to stay in Rajasthan while you visit Abhaneri:
As this place is near to Jaipur-Agra, you can choose between these two cities. Other option includes Abhaneri Camp Safari resort, which is just 1 or 2 kms away from step well. This place is peaceful and can be enjoyed better if you come in group.
For many tour operators Abhaneri is a stopover journey point, a good place for that little break from the forts and palaces. People from Abhaneri village are warm-hearted and very generous to make sure that you feel welcomed and that what adds more authenticity to your trip to Rajasthan.