High Diving1 min

See cliff divers take the plunge in Jodhpur's stunning Toorji Step Well

Written by Will Douglas
Colombian legend Orlando Duque and reigning champion Rhiannan Iffland from Australia dip into the historic Toorji Step Well in the Indian city of Jodhpur.
Never walk if you can dive – staying true to the cliff diving motto, Orlando Duque and Rhiannan Iffland chose to perform acrobatic freefalls of up to 20m down into a pool of water in the city of Jodhpur. The duo used the layers of stairs winding around hand carved treasures only for the way back up into the warm Indian sun.
The pool was originally designed as a drinking source for the city when the step well was built in the 1740s.
Orlando Duque cliff dives into the Toorji step well in Jodhpur
Cliff diving in Jodhpur
With these being the first-ever professional cliff dives on the Indian subcontinent, the sport’s trailblazers rounded their unique years out in style.
Much-travelled, recently retired Colombian cliff diving legend Duque has previously dived from headline-grabbing locations such as an iceberg in Antarctica or in front of the Statue of Liberty in New York. Now he's added the rose-red sandstone gem, the Toorji step well, to his impressive list.
Orlando Duque and Rhiannan Iffland dive into the Toorji step well
Orlando Duque and Rhiannan Iffland dive into the Toorji step well
“It's my first time in India and I'm really excited about the location. It combines everything: a little bit of history, a beautiful location, really tricky, too. It's a very small area for landing,” explained Duque, the only person to have dived in all seven continents. ”Amazing. One of the best locations I've seen so far.”
After more than 20 highly successful years in the competitive side of the sport, the 45-year-old shifted his priorities towards the adventurous aspect in which he aims to continuing to push the sport to higher goals.
The torch of competitive success could be in no better hands than with the undefeated four-time overall champion Iffland from Australia. Only moments after Duque bid farewell during the final in Spain in September, the 28-year-old became the competition’s first diver – man or woman – to win all stops in a season and remain unbeaten all year.
For the most decorated female in the sport’s history, the experience in India was the cherry on the cake of an incredible year. “I've not really experienced anything similar to India. It's got its own flavour and it's so busy, but the people at the same time are so peaceful,” she said, “it was such an awesome experience to dive in there and after the first, the second dive shook off the nerves and it was so much fun I was keen to go back and do it again.”
Rhiannan Iffland dives into the Toorji Ka Jhalra Bavdi (step well) in Jodhpur
Rhiannan Iffland in action in Jodhpur
Located in the ‘Sun City’ or ‘Blue City’ of Jodhpur in Rajasthan, the exceptional diving venue itself was built almost 300 years ago by Queen Maharaja Abhay Singh’s Consort, who continued the age-old tradition of royal women building public water works. A recent restoration process uncovered over 60m of intricate carvings of dancing elephants, medieval lions and cow waterspouts, as well as niches housing deities long gone. Today the step well serves as Jodhpur’s unofficial local swimming pool, frequented by children and some adults who enjoy having a dip and a dive into cool waters.
Orland Duque and Rhiannan Iffland visit the local markets in Jodhpur
Orlando and Rhiannan in Jodhpur
Following these final feats from the heritage monument in the heart of India, the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series will next be back in May 2020 with the first of eight competitions in a brand-new location in Indonesia.
In its 12th season, the champions will be crowned on Iffland’s home soil in Sydney, Australia, for the first time.