The Hidden Stepwells of South India

The Hidden Stepwells of South India
The earliest stepwells are speculated to have been built during the 1st millennium AD, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

These complex structures showcase a mastery of engineering, architecture, and art

Aroshi Handu
July 08 , 2020
02 Min Read

A common phenomenon in India, stepwells are just that — steps descending down to wells, made by digging deep into the earth. Apart from acting as an important source of water, they also served as a source of leisure and worship. These magnificent structures tapped into underground water tables, providing a year-round water supply. Quite a huge number of stepwells can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilisation and this is why a majority of them can be found in the northern parts of India.

The ones in South India have a distinctive style, with ornate and intricate carvings depicting religious scenes. Sadly, many of them continue to remain in a dilapidated state. However, even with all the disrepair and vegetation growth, it has not dimmed their shine and they continue to remain a visually stunning window into India’s glorious past.


Hampi Pushkarini, Karnataka

An integral part of the temple complex, each pushkarini follows a similar architectural form, designed symmetrically as either rectangles or squares

Bhoganandishwara Temple Stepwell, Karnataka

Lush green lawns and the ruins of a long line of pillars dot the area around the temple compound

Itagi Mahadeva Temple Stepwell, Karnataka

The stepped well in the temple complex was built circa 1112 CE by Mahadeva, a commander in the army of King Vikramaditya VI

Lakkundi Kalyanis Stepwell, Karnataka

The walls of the stepwells' ancient structure are enshrined with lingas, while many also have small Shiva shrines in tribute to the God of Destruction

Badi Baoli, Telangana

This is one of the biggest heritage step wells in Hyderabad and has been painstakingly restored to its glory 

Peralassery Temple Pond, Kerala

The temple pond has countless steps laid in unique and intricate geometrical proportions, a North Indian style, rarely seen anywhere in Kerala 

Swastika Stepwell, Tamil Nadu

Also known as Marpidugu Perunkinaru, this stepwell has inscriptions dating back to 8th century CE, describing the immortal life of man


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