Four Best Baolis in India

Architectural marvels, these baolis are steeped in history. They once had great utilitarian value although today some continue to waste away in neglect and despair.

Construction of stepwells or baolis in India was meant to serve as safe water storage in drought-prone areas. Baolis are common in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra and retained high functionality in the localities. The brilliance of these baolis soon transformed them into sacred places where rituals and ceremonies were observed. As society associated baolis with acts of reverence and spiritualism, a few were constructed close to temples.  

Today, only a handful of surviving, ancient baolis are a visual retreat for tourists.  

Agrasen ki Baoli, Delhi

Agrasen ki Baoli has a reputation for being haunted with a tint of eerie and supernatural. It is a subterranean architectural masterpiece. Three-storeyed high with arched corridors and niches, the baoli has 108 stone-paved steps to greet visitors. A government-protected site, the baoli has nooks steeped in darkness with pulsating screams and echoes, according to local myths and legends. 

Rani Ki Vav, Gujarat

Rani Ki Vav translates to ‘Queen’s Stepwell’ and is the most magnificent stepwell in Gujarat constructed in the memorium of Queen Udayamati around 1050 AD. The baoli, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is exemplary of medieval India’s architectural excellence. Constructed in the shape of an inverted temple, Rani Ki Vav is a riveting journey. The air becomes cooler as you descend and navigate your way.

Chand Baori, Rajasthan

Rajasthan has many baolis, and it is not uncommon to spot tourists attempting cliff diving at these historical sites. Built during the reign of King Chanda between 800 and 900 AD, the baoli has 3,500 narrow steps and 13 storeys to vouch for its grandeur. The thousand-year-old structure has survived tragedies and calamities and is a time-travel to Rajasthan’s past opulence. The site once housed many royals as well as local rituals. Its geometry and aesthetics draw many international tourists. 

Hampi Pushkarni, Karnataka

Pushkarni, which means ‘people’s tank’, is located in the Royal Centre of Hampi and was built in the 15th century by the Vijayanagara Dynasty. Hampi Pushkarni is beautiful for its Chalukyan architecture and use of black schist stones. The perfect geometry, devoid of elaborate carvings and sculptures, speaks of minimalism. All the other pushkarnis in Hampi were once an integral part of town planning and religion. Devotees would always find one situated a stone’s throw from temples for the water was used for the hallowed rituals.  

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