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Published: February 4th 2018
The trip from Jaipur to Agra is made memorable for one single stop. Located in the small village of Abhaneri, there are two unforgettable Hindu jewels, the Chand Baori step well, and the ruins of the temple of Harshat Mata.
I was completely enthralled by Chand Baori, one of India's deepest and largest stepwells. More than just a means to conserve water in this arid region, it seems a work of art for its amazing symmetry and marvel of architecture. Built between AD800-900, it consists of 3,600 steps (13 storeys deep) built on square patterns on three sides that go down to the well at the bottom, with an elaborate subterranean palace on the fourth side as a cool place of retreat for the royal family and for gathering during extreme heat.
Upon its completion this colossal and delicately carved well was dedicated to Harshat Mata, the goddess of joy and happiness whose temple, set on a raised platform, is across from the well and was substantially destroyed by the Mughals.
Even now, though it is in ruins, its beautiful craftsmanship is still visible. Many spectacular carvings that were broken and scattered have been collected and are on
display under a covered pavilion surrounding the courtyard around the well. Both places remain a highlight of my trip, and the only samples of ancient hindu culture I experienced in India.
I heard that there are plans for restoration, using those carvings on display. I hope it will become a reality. I am sure it would be an astonishing temple.
The village also boasts a very comfortable camp site called the Abhaneri Village Safari Camp. It offers luxurious tented accommodations, although we only stopped for a very good buffet lunch at the large tended restaurant. It was a nice spot for a breach.
One of my most poignant memories of India is that of a very old man rushing to his home's gate to waive at us as we are driving by. Aw!
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