Its 3,500 steps and perfect pyramid shape have been featured in a few movies, but had you ever heard of it?
I’ve always found it amazing that we can stand on ancient ruins that were built thousands of years ago. It makes you think about how many of these architectural treasures were built with meticulous care and tons of creativity without modern engineering knowledge and tools, and it's really impressive. But it also makes you wonder: how exactly did past civilizations build such monumental structures that could last for centuries? Experts still don’t know for sure, but some people have come up with their own theories, like that they were built by aliens, gods, or ghosts. No matter which theory you support, the fact is that these ruins still stand strong today, and you can visit them anytime because they're not going anywhere.
One example of these ancient ruins is located in the eastern part of India's Rajasthan province. Those who are lucky to visit are amazed by its unique design, mazelike stairs, and spiritual inspiration. It boasts the deepest well in the world, a staircase known as Chand Baori, literally translated as “Moon Well.”
When you enter this palace’s corridors and come out one of its balconies, you are welcomed with a cold breeze of fresh air coming from the 100-feet-deep rectangular well. Its walls are covered with thousands of stairs (about 3,500 steps) built on its four perfectly symmetrical corners that descend in a pyramid shape. As you climb down, you find a pool of green-hued water resting at the bottom of the inverted pyramid structure. The underground construction keeps the inside cool, a nice contrast to the burning heat waves that plague this part of Rajasthan. Try sitting down on one of these staircases and contemplate the many optical illusions of endless squares and patterns this landmark offers. Those who come to this ancient ruin feel a deep spiritual connection to the place and it leaves them with many memorable images.
The local people believe it was built by ghosts.
Walking into this masterpiece can feel like a trip to another dimension or world, and that’s exactly how the village of Abhaneri, Rajasthan, felt about this place and its many construction mysteries. To them, the perfection achieved in this landmark couldn't be made by humans, it had to be ghosts. It seemed to be the most reasonable and logical explanation, since it also alludes to a deep spiritual connection to their ancestors, which they respect and honor.
In contrast to local legends, historical records indicate that sometime between the 8th and 9th century, King Chanda of the Nikumdha dynasty, ordered the construction of Chand Baori in order to solve the area’s drought problems. While he could have just built any regular stairway to keep water from evaporating during the driest seasons, he decided to make the structure 13-stories tall and V-shaped, as a show of devotion to the Goddess of Joy and Happiness, Hashat Mata. Although the well was a complete success, many of its construction details remain a mystery. For instance, we still don't know how long it took them to build it.
These days, the mesmerizing, ancient stairs attract tourists from all over the world, but its location is still not know by many. The well that once supplied water to the nearby village of Abhaneri is often missed by visitors, but those who come across it realize the beauty of its architecture and impressive backdrop, which is perfect for photographers. In fact, photographer Steve McCurry included this site as part of his "Overseas Tour for Vacheron Constantin" series. In addition, it was featured in movies like The Fall (2006) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Make sure you do your best to visit this place on your next trip to India. You won’t regret it.
Other landmark marvels out there:
Cover image: @aceolainteriors