I watched the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel the other day with my housemate… and I was very intrigued because even though I watched it BEFORE I went to Rajasthan, I had no idea the setting was there until I watched it the second time round, after the trip to India. It was brilliant because a scene would suddenly start and immediately I would know the location straight away! It seems so surreal that I was sat on some of the steps that Dame Judi Dench walked on for the scene in the Panna Meena step well! Seeing it on screen made me think… Wow, it really was beautiful.
I didn’t know step wells existed until we saw them in India. They’re basically inverted pyramids. It’s quite striking to be within a space, which was built so many years ago, but is symmetrical and a fine specimen of architecture. The pictures I have simply don’t do it justice. Built in the sixteenth century, it was once used by the local village of Amer as a place to swim, to collect water; it was a communal area. And it still is. But the locals don’t really use it for water anymore, there is a water pump near by the Anokhi museum which they use instead.
Funnily enough apparently its impossible to walk up the steps the same way one walks down them. That was definitely true in my case, I walked around all four sides, sitting in different places, obtaining different perspectives of the breath taking architecture. It’s a place I will never forget.