The Step Wells of Bundi
In the ancient times, when there were no taps, the only source of drinking water used to come from lakes, tanks and step wells. During those days, women would often come to these areas with large pots or pitchers to fetch water and thus, they would serve as a meeting place or hangout zones for the locals. These areas would be full of life and throbbing with immense beauty and charm.
The small town of Bundi is often called as Mini Varanasi or Mini Kashi because of its rich traditional and cultural background. The several step wells in Bundi further add to its charm and heritage. These fascinating works of art and architecture have now become a very popular tourist spot in the state. Moreover, these step wells have been very well maintained by the locals over here, who strive to protect their rich culture and heritage. The various beautiful ornaments, leaves, birds, flowers over here would definitely transport you to another realm. There are many step wells in Bundi and each is unique and different in their own way.
Bundi is home to around 50 step wells and it served as the only source of drinking water until the piped water system was introduced in the state. However, till today, one can still find many locals going to fetch water at these ancient step wells. Also known as Baori, Kund, vav and sagar by the localites, these step wells of Bundi have been constructed over a period of three centuries by various royal families and some locals of Bundi who wanted to contribute something towards a worthwhile cause.
Each of these step wells is uniquely designed with a beautiful architecture, symbolizing the taste and preferences of the locals over time. However, there is one feature that one can find in each of the step well in Bundi, that is, the ancient tradition of having Lord Ganesha on one side and Goddess Saraswati on the other side of the step well. Some popular step wells in Bundi that one must visit are Naval Sagar, Purushottam Ki Baori, Chand Baori, Manohar Ji Ki Baori, Rani Ji Ki Baori, Sukhi Baori and Sisodia Ji ki Baori.
Out of these, Rani Ji Ki Baori is the finest and the most popular step well in Bundi. Situated in the heart of the town, it was constructed in 1699 by Rani Nathavati Ji, who was the youngest queen of the king at that time. This step well is 40 feet wide and 200 feet deep and is known for its elegant sculptures, stone elephant statues, carved pillars and flamboyant archways. A must visit for all the tourists.
Another popular step well and a famous source of drinking water in Bundi is Bawadi step wells. Located just a few yards from Rani Ji Ki Baori, Bawadi Step wells is known for its clean and clear water. It is famous for its beautifully decorated entrance gates and Mehrabs of 30 Feet. Gulab Bawadi or Gulla ki Bawadi is also another popular step well in Bundi, known for its crystal clear water and unique hairpin curve design. It is believed that this step well attracted many women during the olden days. Dhabaiji ka Kund is another popular step well in Bundi, located near the Lanka Gate. Built in 1911 AD, the step wells of Dhabaiji ka Kund are 50 feet deep with two rooms known as Jharokha.
Besides the above, one should also visit the step wells at Nagar Sagar, located just outside Chogan Gate in the old city. This place consists of two bawadies with similar architectures. There are more than 400 step wells in these two bawadies.
Furthermore, tourists can also visit the step wells at Nawal Sagar Lake, which is a dazzling artificial lake that can also be seen from Taragarh Fort. The lake is known for its magical mirror effect that reflects the beauty of various forts and palaces in the city. In 1820, a spectacular step well was built over here by the eminent Rao Raja Umaid Singh to enhance the beauty of the lake.
The small town of Bundi has been blessed with abundant nature and beauty, which has been made even more beautiful by the rulers of the city, who constructed these wonderful and striking step wells. They serve as a symbol of what the locals have achieved over a period of time and thus have immense social and religious significance.