It was a typical summer weekend. Our last trip out of Pune, to Sangameshwar temple, was in February and it seemed ages ago. We just wanted to go to some place. So, i started browsing my Pune folder, keeping in mind that most of the scenic places would not qualify for a summer trip. Then, i stumbled upon Baramotichi vihir, an ancient step-well near Satara. This place had turned up in the search results when i was researching about step-wells in Rajasthan. The fact that a google search for this place brought up less than 5 results made this very intriguing. So, this was how the conversation went:
Me: So, do you want to drive 2.5 hrs to see a well?
Vidhya: (after few seconds of thinking). Ok, let’s go.
What we also did was to visit the Mapro farms in Panchgani on the way back (ok, a little extra diversion) to make it a nice road-trip.
This well was completed in 1646 by
Sahib Sau. Virubhai Bhosale (Thanks Kaustubh for the correction) and was meant to be a water source to all the farms around. The well is octogonal in shape and was built to look like dug-out shivling i.e a vertical column with an arm extending to the side. It is 110 ft deep and 50 foot in diameter. This was not a traditional step-well like the ones in Rajasthan. A step-well is just a well with steps all along the sides which lead you to the bottom of the well. Of course, the design of the steps range from “just steps” to “intricately carved designs”. This one had steps from one side leading to the middle of the well from where there were look-out galleries.
How to go to Baramotichi Vihir: There are absolutely no boards or directions inside Limb village. The advise given by one of the villagers was for us to ask at every turn and then carry on. You have to go on NH4 towards Satara, cross the Mahabaleshwar turn, then before Satara, you will have an uphill section where you should see rows of modern buildings on the right. This is the Gourishankar institute of management sciences. If you fail to notice these building on the uphill section, you are better off not driving in the first place. As soon as you cross these buildings, you will see a very clearly visible board on the left marked for Limb Village. Do not take that! For some strange reason, there is a board for a kuchcha road into the village, but none for the proper road a hundred metres ahead. Take this left turn towards Limb village. After that, follow the map below or keep asking and proceed. I have marked the map right until the tree under which you have to park and walk to the well
If you notice in the map, i have marked a point B. This is somewhere inside Limb Village. For some reason, we took a right at this fork and ended up in the narrowest of lanes ever possible, right in the heart of a rural village setting. The road was just wide enough to accommodate the Xylo. The tricky part was to avoid the open gutter on either side of the road. Imagine the situation: I was at the driver’s seat with the open window and trying to avoid the gutter on the right. Vidhya was looking out on the left and giving directions to avoid the gutter and the extended family of the village hen and its chicks. Akshara was between us in the front row alternating between “Appa, what are you doing?” and “Amma, what are you doing?”. And, with the gutters and the hens, we head into a marriage party! it took us over 30 mins to cross this narrow stretch, but it was fun!
Once you climb down the stairs, it leads to an arched opening through which you can reach the well. On top of this arched opening, there is a gallery which opens out to both sides. This was built to accommodate the throne of the king, but i have no idea what he would do sitting here. The gallery can be reached by a narrow “chor-darwaja” from the side (on ground level).
We were there on a summer day around noon, so not the best possible time for photography. But this well is “photogenic” and if you there in the monsoon/evening time, you can get some good photos.
We were tired by the time we finished and wanted some good refreshments. So, on our way back, we took a diversion to Panchgani and went to the famous (strangely, i had always driven past it to Mahabaleshwar, but never stopped!) Mapro farms. On the recommendation of a friend, we tried the sandwich and it was awesome. So, i am forwarding the recommendation! We had a good break there as the weather was a bit better in Panchgani