Water source, meeting place, architectural wonder: The ancient Indian stepwell – a man-made, subterranean well also known as ‘vav’ or ‘baori’ – has been capturing the imagination of pilgrims and travelers for centuries.
Today, many these ancient relics have been largely forgotten, and now languish in a state of decay.
Admired for their astonishing intricate and often symmetric designs as well as their significance in Hindi culture as a sacred place for water collection, bathing and meditation, the earliest step-wells date back to around 550 AD. During medieval times, over 3,000 were built in the northern states of India. Today, however, many these ancient relics have been largely forgotten, and now languish in a state of decay. We were inspired by the documentation of Chicago-based adventure journalist, Victoria Lautman, to pay tribute to 10 step-wells that caught our eye.