Lakkundi, Karnataka, a forgotten land of stepwells of beauty

 In the past centuries Stepwells were common across the Indian subcontinent  and more so in the sub arid regions of Rajasthan, Gujarat, etc where the rain fall is far below the average  and the summer heat was very high.  

Stepwell, Lakkundi  Manikeswara temple

Stepwell, Nandeeshwara Temple,

  Step wells intricately designed subterranean  structures of square, rectangular or cylindrical shape,  extend  down to the water table to access the potable potable water where evaporation of water due to heat is at the minimum.  Steps of various geometric pattern are built on all sides or in a particular style to reach the groundwater.  The underground pavilions  built at different levels  are richly ornate supported by decorative walls, sculptured pillars, etc and offer cool ambiance for the visitors, pilgrims,  caravans, etc during hot days. They used the well to wash clothes, bathe and to take rest overnight. In some places the water could be used for irrigation purpose as well. 

Invariably commissioned by  local rulers and kings or wealthy people,  such step wells are known for their amazing architecture  Hindu and Islamic with numerous stone carvings. An engineering marvel, they date back to many centuries and need richly talented masons, stone workers and artisans to build them artistically.  Their skills lie in careful placement of a wide, stone-lined, sloping excavation  upon which are  built  long staircase of various shapes and side embedded ledges to access  the ever-fluctuating level of the water. 

Muskin Bhanvi step well Lakkundi

Muskin Bhanvi step well Lakkundi

Above image: Muskin Bhanvi step well is part of Manikesvara 
Temple, Lakkundi, KA. Visitors can not enter and the stepwell is barricaded from vandalism. There is a proposal to include this site on the Hampi tourism circuit........................

There are many step wells in  Lakkundi town of Gadag District of Karnataka and are close to  Manikesvara and Nanneshwara Temples, Lakkundi town is about 60 km from Hubli city and 11 km from Gadag town and has many amazing temples, hidden treasures not well publicized. Fairly managed by the ASI Chateer Bavi, Kanne Bavi and Muskin Bhavi are popular step wells known for their beauty.  Inscriptions here date back to the period of Kalyani Chalukya or Western Chalukyas.  Kalyani is the local name for a stepwell. The Muskina bavi (Veiled Well) is  an interesting well near the temple Manikesvara and on all sides you can see the  cascading stone steps up to bottom water level.
Lakkundi, Karnataka

Small shrines on the steps have  no gods Musukina Bavi - stepwell is an interesting one. On the three sides of the well, there are steps and on the fourth side there is a bridge to access the temple mandapa. Most of the stepwells of Lakkundi are built with small niches with canopy over them inside the walls of the wells. Mostly enshrined in them are Shiva  lingas.