Bill got very interested when Davinder told us we were going to visit a step well. He'd read about them, but still he didn't quite understand their purpose or how they worked.
So off the main highway we went, and through the cold, wet and muddy countryside....
....to the lovely little town of Abhaneri....
....with its tasteful strip mall....
....and other assorted shops.
OK, Davinder, the tourists are off the bus and getting wetter by the minute. Where do we go from here?
We'll just go inside and look.
The pigeons certainly like the place.
So a "baori" is a step well. Interesting.
Is that it over there? The big hole in the ground?
Whoa. Now that's an impressive hole in the ground.
Let's see what Wikipedia has to say: Chand Baori is one of the oldest and most attractive landmarks in Rajasthan. It was built by King Chanda of the Nikumbha Dynasty between 800 and 900 AD and was dedicated to Hashat Mata, Goddess of Joy and Happiness upon completion.
The state of Rajasthan is extremely arid, and the intent and final structure of Chand Baori was intended to conserve as much water as possible.
At the bottom of the well, the air remains 5-6 degrees cooler than at the surface, and Chand Baori was used as a community gathering place for locals during periods of intense heat.
Davinder tells us all about it.
See King Chandra's palace over there? He was no fool. When the temperature was in the triple-digits during the summer, he'd hold court in this big hole in the ground, where he could stay cool(er).
Bill wishes he could walk the halls of the palace.
Bill hopes the water back in the day was a little cleaner than this.
Kinda yucky now.
This shot illustrates what Bill knew about step wells before he came here. Look at those steps, look at the pattern. To Bill the whole thing had appeared extraordinarily dangerous, or something like one of those impossible M.C. Escher paintings, you know -- like this:
But no, this isn't impossible at all. In fact, much to Bill's relief, it was obvious that one careless step wouldn't cause someone to topple to the bottom of the pit -- just to the next lower set of steps. There are better pictures of this place here, taken on sunnier days.
And see? There's a lot more going on here horizontally than you'd think at first.
This Flash video will give you a look around.
Even after all these years, people come here to pray.
Somehow these bright wet colors were involved in the worship.
Bill didn't want to get involved, but he did like the chanting and the bright colors and the pretty flowers..
As best I could understand, when the Muslims took over the place, they wrecked the Hindu sculptures.
But the Indian government now is making an effort to find and restore what's left lying around.
It's a shame, really. I believe this guy is Ganesh and his once had the face of an elephant.
It would be nice to see everything restored in all its glory.
Eric and Tammy contemplate the big hole.
And now it's time to leave. Where to next?
Well, there's a very old Hindu temple across the street.
Harshat Mata Temple, dedicated to the goddess Harshat Mata, serves as the other tourist attraction of Abhaneri.
And as we're walking toward it, we encounter this...thing. Davinder says that thing sticking up from the concrete is supposed to represent a bull's, well, you know....
This nice lady keeps the bull's you-know swept clean, rain or shine.
This is a pink Hindu temple.
And this is a one-person gate across from the pink Hindu temple.
Margo discovers getting even one person through at a time isn't particularly easy.
Razed during the 10th century, the remains of the Harshat Mata Temple still boast architectural and sculptural styles of ancient India. Harshat Mata is considered to be the goddess of joy and happiness. According to myth, the goddess is always cheerful, and she imparts her joy and happiness to the whole village.
On a dreary day like today we could use a little joy and happiness, so let's go have a look.
Eighth to ninth century AD? This place is old.
And the walkway is wet.
And if you want to go inside, you have to be barefoot.
I think none of the tourists went barefoot today.
But we did find another bull's you-know.
This one even came with its own bull gazing at the you-know.
Look at the stacks and stacks of carvings that over a thousand years ago were ripped from the temple and strewn about. The Indian government is making an effort to put it all back together again someday. I think. Probably.
Well, it is a rural area.
Almost time to leave now.
Bye Harshat Mata Temple.
Bill strikes one last pose with the pigeons.
Bye mustard fields and neatly-stacked ruins.
Mostly neatly stacked.
They're overgrown wild parakeets. Well, that's what Davinder said.
I think the parakeets and the pigeons didn't get along very well.
If you don't get out of here, they're going to leave you.
OK, Bill's leaving. Very interesting place, Abhaneri.