Rajasthan Pilgrimages - Abhaneri Temple
95 km from Jaipur, the village of Abhaneri is situated on the Jaipur-Agra road and is especially notable for 'baoris', the step wells that are an indigenous invention of the local people at rainwater harvesting. Besides these 'baoris', the Harshat Mata Temple is worth visiting, who is the Goddess of Mirth and Happiness. According to the local beliefs, Goddess Harshat Mata is always depicted in a jolly mood and is said to impart her mirth and happiness as brightness to the whole village. 'Abha' means brightness in Hindi. Thus, the village was originally named 'Abha Nagri', which in time was corrupted to Abhaneri.
King Raja Chand is credited with laying the foundation of the village. Some people also believe that Raja Chand is actually just a mythological representation of Raja Bhoja, who was the ruler of the Gurjar kingdom in the 9th century AD. This belief finds its evidences in the ruins of the temple that confirms to the 10th century architectural and sculptural styles. Opposite the temple is a huge tank known as 'Chand Baori', which impresses the visitors as it is fortified on all four sides with stronghold for defense.
Harshat Mata Temple
Today Abhaneri is mainly famous for the Harshat Mata Temple belonging to the 9th century. of course, only portions of this ancient shrine remain now, like the sanctuary walls, terrace and something of the columned mandapa (forechamber). The sanctum, shorn of its superstructure, is enclosed in an ambulatory and is pancharatha (with five offsets) in structure. The walls have carved nichés in which are images of other deities.
These worn out images indicate that the temple was originally dedicated to Vishnu, the Creator of the Hindu trinity of Creator-Preserver-Destroyer. The architectural details of the terrace basement is more or less complete, showing friezes of geometric ornament and miniature nichés with sculptures of seated deities and amorous couples. The columns and walls are adorned with scenes of dance, music, sport and love, although majorly damaged now. Some of the better panels have been shifted to the Archaeological Museum, Amber and the Central Museum, Jaipur. The sanctum now enshrines an image of the four-armed deity Harasiddhi, locally called Harshat Mata. Many images of Hindu deities have been found around the place which are being preserved by the Archaelogical Survey of India. A mela (fair) is held near the temple in the month of Chaitra (March-April) every year.
Chand Baoli-A Stepwell
Near the Harshat Mata Temple is the stepwell Chand Baoli, belonging to the 11th century AD. The desert kingdom of Rajasthan has many such tanks which served as community centres, and constructing them was considered an act of great generosity and benevolence. These baolis or stepwells were no ordinary structures; they were marvels of architecture. The Chand Baoli has beautifully carved panels inserted into the sides. The steps, in sets of 4 or 5, are in the shape of an inverted 'V'. The carved stone pillars, which are somewhat damaged now, were once strong enough for supporting pulleys to draw water. Several storeyed verandahs surround this beautiful stepwell.