Built in the 10th century, not long after the more famous Chand Baori in Abhaneri was constructed, Katan Baori in Osian (or Osiyan, Rajasthan) was not quite as I expected.
Having now visited quite a few step wells in India, I’ve become a little obsessive about them, marveling at their construction and the beauty of the architecture and surroundings. Sadly, the Katan Baori is not in a great condition at all.
If this monument is under the stewardship of A.S.I., they have clearly not given it any attention in years. The well is dry, overgrown with vegetation, strewn with rubbish, and the fabric of the monument is falling down.
It was a sad sight to witness. I strived to explore the well a little, but with fallen masonry everywhere and bulging walls about to seemingly collapse at any moment, I decided it wasn’t worth the risk.
What’s even more surprising is that Katan Baori was included on the tentative list for inclusion as a World Heritage site as recently as 2008. How can a monument that is considered this important to the heritage of India, and indeed the world, be allowed to become what it is today ?
Toorji Ka Jhalra and Mahila Bagh Ka Jhalra in Jodhpur are great examples of how such monuments can be restored and maintained. Neither of them are under the control of A.S.I. however, so it does make me wonder if a local initiative could be put in place to give this site some attention that it so deserves.
Osian is a small village blessed with a lot of heritage, and I would imagine much of the population rely on the passing trade that tourism gives them. By investing in their monuments, it could ultimately reward so much of the wider community. But I don’t know if this is possible if Katan Baori is “owned” A.S.I.
Anyway, enough of my complaining 🙂 If you’re in Osian it’s certainly worth a quick look and maybe one day someone can comment here with the good news that action has been finally taken.
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