I am fascinated by these structures that look like reverse temples. They are actually stepwells, that is deep wells inside ancient structures that can be accessed via staircases reaching several stories underground. With the earliest ones dating back between the 2nd and 4th centuries A.D, the stepwells were developed in India as a way to guarantee a steady water supply for areas suffering from heavy seasonal monsoons.
They later evolved into amazingly complex achievements of engineering and art with elements from Hindu and Islamic architecture. Unfortunately over the centuries, most of India’s thousands of stepwells have been neglected for a number of reasons.
These pieces of forgotten architecture remind me of the never-ending stairs in the artworks of M.C. Escher.
The photographer is Chicago journalist Victoria Lautman, who spent four years documenting the stepwells at 120 different sites around India, mainly to write a book about them in order to raise awareness.
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