The casual tourist wouldn’t realize the significance of the ancient stepwell of Abhaneri, perhaps, but our tour guide Aparna was a Ph.D. student dedicated to helping foreign guests understand her country. This dusty little place in northern Rajasthan happens to be home of one of the largest stepwells in all the world with thirteen levels, fortified on all sides to protect the valuable water in its reservoir.
The green at the bottom of the stepwell is water colored by algae.
A step well is literally a source of water that is bricked into layers or steps downward so that water can be accessed in any season. In times past, the most prominent members of the community had the privilege of living in cool apartments above and surrounding the step well.
I tend to wonder why, if an artifact worked beautifully in the past and is well-preserved in the present, isn’t it in use today? Looking at the arid countryside, no doubt water is still a premium commodity.
Combination of Old and New
The little towns between Jaipur and Agra are a combination of old and new that can strike the visitor as odd. How about roadside markets vs. tuktuks?
The (mostly) happy life of a cow in India
Cattle are valued highly, like the young bull below. A cow is a highly respected creature because of its life-giving products. But once the cow no longer produces either milk or calves, the owner releases the cow to the ownership of everyone.
She is allowed to roam freely and forage wherever she can. The assumption is apparently that all people will feel their moral obligation to feed her along with their own animals until she dies. Then the cow’s body is routinely cremated, a respect also shown to human life.
I ask you, what is this cow eating?