Anti-monument: The Stepwell

Although Stepwells in Western India are somewhat trite, few exist in reputable condition. A visit to three of India’s best may quench the thirst, so to speak, of said particular desire. Quite simply, to ensure year round water supply in the aired West, wells were dug, and stairs placed for ease of access. And when the women (who are the pack mules of hydration) wished to thank a particular deity for the quenching beverage, they ordered up a proper effigy for them. It seems however, that wall space became a scarcity before they ran out of deities.

She is an ingenious typology, though, and the only ancient monument in India, to which I am aware, that stemmed from practical necessities, rather than religious or governmental sanctimony. And in further incongruence, she also functioned as a social and recreational space, inviting children for afternoon swims as women washed clothes.

One need not mention specifics pertaining to the ceremonial progression of any particular stepwell, …