Rani ki Vav(Queen’s Stepwell): Patan, Gujrat

Back from a long vacation recently, there was no agenda of another holiday. However a last-minute decision to join in a family get-together was the reason that we stayed overnight at Ahmedabad, Gujrat while returning from Pune. The next day being Sunday we were in no particular hurry to make it to Badmer, Rajasthan, our city of residence. I had heard about the step-well of Patan and since it was only a small detour away en-route to Barmer from Ahmedabad, I bugged Shashank, my husband till he agreed to drive till Patan on a condition that I would make a meal of his choice after reaching home!

Patan, known for Rani ki Vav and Patola Saris, is two and a half hour drive from Ahmedabad. Though I couldn’t convince Shashank to buy Patola silk sari for me but we did make it to the step-well.

Stepwells are water tanks which are reached by descending steps. These were built by digging deep trenches to reach the underground water and the walls are lined with stones with steps to reach the water. Step-wells were not only a source of water but also became the place for social and religious gatherings. The architectural features of subterranean  pavilions, passageways and chambers at different levels in the step-wells also provided relief during hot days. The walls of stones were mostly heavily adorned with sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses.

RANI KI VAV: 

Rani ki vav was built in early 11th century(1050 AD) by the widowed queen in memory of her husband, Raja Bhimdev I of Solanki Dynasty of Gujrat. The step-well built near the ancient Rigvedic River Saraswati, was buried in the debris and silt after the floods in the river. It was only in 1960 when Archaeological Survey of India dug up the site to expose this magnificent architectural marvel. It has been given the status of UNESCO’s World Heritage site.

The step well, oriented in east-west directions, has been constructed as an inverted temple to emphasise the religious importance of water. The well is in seven levels of stairs decorated with more than 500 elaborate ornate sculptures depicting many mythological and religious stories. The fourth level leads to the water tank and well which is at a depth of 23 meters. There also was a gate at the lowest level which had a tunnel supposedly an escape route during an attack. The tunnel is closed due to rubble, however.

We reached the step-well at around 12:30 in the afternoon navigating through narrow village streets and almost missing a turn or two. The approach road passes through the village and is confusing as there are no proper direction sign-boards to the step-well. The lawns around the step-well are well maintained and the boards describing the history of the well are put up for the tourist convenience. There is a proper parking area as well.

The tourists are not allowed to descend down all the levels to prevent any accidents. The wall of the well is also covered with many sculptures but it was from only a distance that we could see a few statues which were visible from the fourth level pavilion.

The central theme of all the sculptures was the Hindu god Lord Vishnu and his ten incarnations surrounded by statues of celestial nymphs, the apsaras and yoginis. The step-well was one of the best work of art and architecture of Solanki Kings.

I was definitely very happy that we made this trip as my fascination towards historic monuments was fulfilled. It is yet another example of the exquisite craftsmanship of Indian artisans and definitely worth visiting.

Comments

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            shoma abhyankar

            It is the British who closed all the baoris and step wells and introduced canal system, otherwise the village life was centered around baolis as main community interaction place

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  2. spkezdev

    I like the information that’s presented while describing your trip. A travel blog is at its best when it tells you about another culture while also painting a picture of excitement.

    I think I would like to see pictures throughout the article instead of all the pictures bunched together, but that’s just me.

    The pictures are excellent.

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  4. Anay Bhide

    Hi Shoma,
    Unlike other travel bloggers, who share only the best part and nice pics of their travel, very wise of you to do otherwise and warn us about the difficulties or probable dangers to be encountered while travelling to different places. It’s informative and worth considering.

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      shoma abhyankar

      Thanks a lot but sorry I can not accept as I have been nominated for it earlier. Thanks so much for liking my blog. I am absolutely honored.

      On 16-Feb-2015 8:56 am, “Astonishing India” wrote: > >

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