• Dada Harir Vav, Ahmadabad, Gujarat, India, 1500 CE
    by Victoria Lautman

  • Rajon ki Baoli, Delhi, India, 1520 CE
    by Victoria Lautman

Artist Talk

October 7

 Palo Alto Art Center, 1313 Newell Road
Palo Alto, CA 94303

Subterranean Ghosts: India's Vanishing Stepwells

7:00 pm–9:00 pm

India’s famous palaces, forts, temples and tombs are must-see tourist attractions that appear in every guide book. But one of the most significant and fascinating categories of architecture is all but unknown throughout the world, including India itself in many cases, having fallen off history’s grid.

Stepwells are subterranean edifices unique to the subcontinent, first constructed around the 6th century CE and continuing for over a millennium. As marvels of architecture, engineering and art they are nearly unsurpassed, often enormous in scale and with extraordinary ornamentation, commissioned by both Hindus and Muslims alike. Unlike other historic monuments they performed several vital functions, the most important of which was to provide water year-round, even when it was ten stories deep. Long flights of stairs accessed the bottom most level in dry seasons, while during monsoons the often-ornate structures could fill to the top. Stepwells were also civic centers, spiritual destinations, cool retreats in brutal heat, and essential oases for remote caravans. Thousands once existed throughout the country, but most have disappeared - and continue to – from lack of use and interest. Preserving these unknown wonders requires an international effort.


Society for Art & Cultural Heritage of India

Korean, Himalayan & Central Asian

SACHI is a vibrant art and cultural nonprofit organization in the San Francisco Bay Area. Dedicated to excellence in programs, and with a vision to impart creative learning, SACHI's unique events promote the understanding and appreciation of the rich and diverse landscape of Indian art, culture and heritage. We invite you to get involved by attending events, becoming a member and learning more.



(650) 386-3491
United States
155 15th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94118


Monday through Sunday
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