I have seen many a stepwell, and after a while they all look the same. So it was with some misgivings that I ventured to Rani ki Vav in Patan, Gujarat.
Am I glad I braved the heat and harsh sun – it is by far the most beautiful stepwell I have seen. Intricately carved, it looks more like a work of art than a water storage.
Rani ki Vav was built by Udayamati, Queen of Bhimadeva I in late 11th century. The latter’s father had founded the Solanki dynasty of Anahilwada Patan. Rani means Queen.
Vav is 64 metres long, 20m wide and 27m deep. It’s laid out in the East-West direction, with the well on the west end. It’s pillars hold up multi-layered pavilions.
Stepwells were used to store water, places to stay cool in the summers and for social gatherings.
It was discovered only in the 1960s, lying buried except at the top till then. And carefully restored by the Archaeological Survey of India since then.
Patan was the capital of Gujarat for over 600 years between the 8th-14th centuries. Its earlier names were Anahilwada, Naharwalah and Analavata and lay on the left bank of the Saraswati river.
The Rani ki Vav lies a wee bit off the Tropic of Cancer at 23 degrees and 51’ North of the Equator, 2 km (1.2 miles) North West of Patan town.
Go there for a picnic on its well manicured lawns – but do carry your own water. The stepwell only gets some during the monsoons now. Pity!
Ajay Jain is currently on the Great Arabian Sea Drive, starting from Delhi and following the coastline all the way from Gujarat down to Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Follow all updates on:
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