A Travel Guide to India’s 6 most beautiful Stepwells

India’s stepwells are unmissable destinations depicting the sublime entanglement of architecture and nature. Elaborate by design, the stepwells served as basins during the rainy season, so that water could be stored for dryer periods. The sacred element of water awarded the stepwells a semi-deific quality. Places of both prayer and physical replenishment, they became important centers of the community for local residents, still commanding a powerful spiritual presence through their natural serenity and spacious designs to any who visit today. Here are five of the most beautiful and rewarding of India’s water temples and information on how to find them.

Rani Ki Vav

Often touted as the grandest of all stepwells in India in terms of both scale and intricacy of design, the Rani is an excellent starting point for those considering a tour of the idyllic stepwells of India. Panel carvings, figurines and galleries depicting Vishnu’s 10 faces, mean this destination is steeped in history and culture.

Rani ki Vav, a stepwell in Patan, Gujarat

The Rani Ki Vav is located in Gujarat in the Patan district. It costs approximately 200 rupees to enter as a foreigner, and it may be best to hire a taxi from Ahmedabad as the Rani lies roughly 130 kilometers outside the city.

Chand Baori

Chand Baori, situated in Abhaneri, Rajasthan is a unique geometrical 20-meter-deep (or 64 feet) well with four sides. The steps and water surround three, but you meet a beautiful, carved three-storied pavilion on the fourth side, with two balconies and many fascinating carvings and sculptures from the Pratihara dynasty. It is also the deepest stepwell in India– 13 floors deep!

Chand Baori stepwell in Abhaneri near Jaipur, Rajasthan
Chand Baori, one of the most beautiful stepwells of Rajasthan

Built by King Chanda in the 9th century, if you want to visit this breathtaking landmark, you’ll have to go looking for it. The Chand Baori is around 95km from Jaipur but has no direct buses. The town of Abhaneri can be reached easily enough from Jaipur though. One option is to take a taxi from Sikandra. But you could also take a bus to Gular and then walk for an hour to Abhaneri. Abhaneri is still relatively tourist-free, for a town housing India’s largest stepwell. So, entry is free and exploration is unhindered.

Agrasen Ki Baoli

Situated in the center of Dehli, the Agrasen Ki Baoli is well kept and easily accessible, making it one of the top places to visit in Delhi. Long and narrow, with distinctive cobbled coves, the structure plummets down expansively, giving the illusion of a stairwell of infinite descent. During the day, the surrounding trees filter dappled light over its archways and walls, giving the spot a sense of peaceful relief from the claustrophobic chaos of India’s capital city.

Agrasen Ki Baoli, top things to do in Delhi

Being one of the most accessible stepwells in India, many may wish to stop here as they experience the busy streets of India’s major urban center. Travel on the Dehli metro to Barakhamba road to visit the Agrasen. It’s free to enter.

Did you know, we have two hostels in Delhi! One is in Paharganj, the jumbled & euphoric part of the city, whereas the other one is in South Delhi, which is more of an upmarket, peace-loving area. Check out both Zostel Delhi & Zostel South Delhi before you make your choice.

Rajon Ki Baoli

The Rajon is also in Dehli but is situated in the quiet forests of the Mehrauli Archaeological Park. One of the most peaceful and quiet of India’s stepwells, the Rajon is wider and feels more open in design, mirroring the sprawling natural grove it nestles within. It evokes a similarly Islamic style but features more ornate, detailed archways and fine patterns. At the same time, the Rajon is distinctively unkempt, with some damaged structures, showcasing the beauty of extraordinary craftsmanship reclaimed by nature.

Rajon Ki Baoli in Delhi, places to visit in Delhi

The Rajon is easily accessible, lying just off the Qutab Minar Station on the Dehli Metro. Like many of the beautiful stepwells in India, the Rajon is also free to visit.

Looking for more places to explore in Delhi? Check out our Delhi Travel Guide here.

Adalaj Vav

The Adalaj Vav, situated in Gujarat, is unique. Featuring a rising octagonal central space with box-like archways that almost give the illusion of infinity mirrors, the Adalaj is an incredible geometric undertaking. As a visitor, you can appreciate that the architects knew how to maximize the projection of space in this stepwell. Its expansiveness is otherworldly and bizarre. As stepwells were designed to function as receptacles for water during the monsoon, the maximization of space serves an equally impressive functional purpose.

There’s no fee to enter the Adalaj and it’s much closer to Ahmedabad than the Rani, only 18 kilometers outside the city. A taxi or bus ride from the city will ensure you reach this incredible site quickly and hassle-free.

Panna Meena Ka Kund

The Panna Meena is situated adjacent to the well-known tourist spot close to Jaipur, the Amber Fort. As a result of its location, it is often obscured and overshadowed by this major attraction but is well worth exploring. Its characteristic pyramidal steps are scorched in brazen yellow paint, which dances in contrast with the drowning black opal pool at its heart.

Panna Meena Ka Kund in Jaipur Rajasthan

This is a great place to visit along with the Amber Fort, ensuring you get to see both attractions when you choose to stay in Jaipur. The Panna Meena is free to visit and can be found by following the Amer Road to the Anohki Museum.

Check out Zostel Jaipur, a vibrant backpacking hostel in Jaipur, right in the middle of the Pink City.

Backpacking Hostels in India

As Asia’s largest chain of backpacking hostels, Zostel is present in more than 40 destinations across India & Nepal. Covering the travellers' favourite cities like Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Rishikesh, & Kochi (amongst many more!), and offbeat towns like Vagamon & Mukteshwar (and many others), Zostel hostels make your stay happening, social, and comfortable. Check out all the destinations here.

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