The ancient well at Chand Baori, 95 km from Jaipur, India.

Chand Baori in Abhaneri, near Jaipur, Rajasthan, is among the largest, if not the largest, of the stepwells. It is also perhaps the most visually spectacular: Chand Baori is a deep four-sided structure with an immense temple on one face.

Some 3,500 Escher-esqe terraced steps march down the other three sides 13 stories to a depth of 100 feet. The construction dates to the 10th century, and is dedicated to Harshat Mata, goddess of joy and happiness.

Water plays a special part in Hindu mythology, as a boundary between heaven and earth known as tirtha. As manmade tirtha, the stepwells became not only sources of drinking water, but cool sanctuaries for bathing, prayer, and meditation. The wells are called by many names. In Hindu they are baori, baoli, baudi, bawdi, or bavadi.
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