The rural village of Narlai in Rajasthan is a cluster of both modern and traditional buildings, including a colonial compound turned into a hotel and several Hindu and Jain temples. At the outskirts of Narlai, on the private property of a local Maharaja, sits a 16th-century stepped well.
The Narlai Stepwell may not be as large as Chand Baori in Abhaneri, but it is extraordinarily charming. Instead of a set of continuous steps designed to provide access to water to as many people as possible, this stepwell favors fewer steps, but strategically placed to create the biggest impact on onlookers. This preference may reflect the purpose of the stepwell, which was to be used by the Maharaja and the few people living on and around the property, rather than serving a whole village.
The stepwell is equipped with a water wheel activated by a bullock that serves to control the water level in the well. Adjacent to the well is the sumptuous Maharaja’s residence, beyond which is farmland and forest. The wildlife in the area includes leopards, but a good guide and a good dose of luck are required to spot them. Peacocks, on the other hand, are ubiquitous.