India is a country rich in history and culture, where every corner hides its unique treasures. One of these treasures are the extraordinary stone wells that are found throughout this amazing country. Up to ten stories deep, these stunning architectural structures are slowly crumbling but still remain monuments of great engineering art.
History of discovery
The idea to visit India and study the stone wells came to journalist Victoria Lautman thirty years ago. On her first trip, she discovered these impressive objects and was amazed by their beauty and scale. Victoria spent four years traveling across India to find and document these unique structures and share their beauty with the world.
Engineering and Symbolism
Thousands of stone wells were built in India between the second and fourth centuries A.D. They began as simple ditches, but gradually developed into much more complex and majestic structures. The wells became a symbol of eternal life and were built by rich and powerful philanthropists, including many women.
Architecture and functionality
The design of underground wells is a deep cylinder designed to access underground water. Adjacent to the well is an adjacent stone ditch with stairs and side ledges that provide easy access to the water. Water flows out through a special hole, forming a small stream.
Unique water conservation system
During the rainy season, the wells turned into huge cisterns, filling with water to the brim. This original water conservation system has been used for a millennium and has been an important part of life for people living in regions with grueling dry months and torrential spring monsoons.
The threat of extinction
However, despite their importance and splendor, most of the stone wells across India today are in a neglected state or completely abandoned. Uncontrolled pumping of groundwater has caused many of them to dry up. Many structures are used as garbage dumps and some have disappeared from all maps forever.
The rate at which these unique structures are disappearing so concerned Victoria Lautman that she decided to dedicate her life to finding and preserving them. Throughout her travels, she has been able to find more than 120 structures across seven states in India. Thanks to her efforts, these stone wells can now be seen and studied, if only in photographs.
The stone wells of India are not only architectural masterpieces, but also evidence of ancient engineering and wisdom of the peoples who have lived on this land for thousands of years. They are part of India’s unique cultural heritage that requires our attention and protection.