A stepped-well (Baoli, Vav, Vapi) is generally a rectangular structure containing a draw well, constructed below the ground level. It is approached by a long stepped corridor which leads from the ground level to the water of the well. Building stepped-wells especially in arid regions was a common practice in the Indian subcontinent. Mostly placed on travel routes, these not only served to quench thirst of the travellers, the space created several levels below the surface of these elaborate wells provided cool resting places. Besides the well these used to have additional tanks for bathing and washing purposes. The Center for Art and Archaeology's image collection of stepped-wells include documentation from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh.
Baoli, Bhandarej, Rajasthan
The patron of this stepwell was Bahadur Singh Bharot, a landowner whose property included the area around the queen’s stepwell. According to an inscription, he began the well in 1805 and was completed by his son in 1811 by his son. Columns were appropriated from Rani ki Vav, Patan and lengthened as necessary. The three domes atop the final pavilion are probably original.
Lautman, Victoria, The Vanishing Stepwells of India, 2017, 204
Bhamaria Vav was probably a private well in a pleasure retreat during the reign of Mahmud Begada. Two parallel stone arches span the space and have ornate windows between them. There are four rooms per floor without any windows. When the retreat was in use, oil lamps positioned in small arched niches in the walls were used to illuminate the space.
Lautman, Victoria, The Vanishing Stepwells of India, 2017, 101