It is not unknown to the world about the magnificent craftsmanship and artistic capacity the ancient Indian sculptors and designers held. The various monuments, thousands of ancient temples and builds are a pure reflection of that matter. On visiting Gujarat’s Rani ki Vav one cannot escape the puzzling question that how these ancient people managed to design and create such perfect build without the assistance of modern machines and tools.
Rani ki Vav is a stepwell located in the banks of Saraswati river, in the town of Patan in Gujarat. It was built by Rani Udaimati in the 11th century as a memorial for her husband, Bhima 1. King Bhima or Bhimdev 1 was of Chalukya/ Solanki dynasty and was the ruler of parts of contemporary Gujarat.
The river Saraswati flooded Rani ki Vav and it was undiscovered for centuries. At the end of 1980’s, the Archaeological Survey of India excavated it and found the carvings in impeccable conditions. This step-well was not used for the sole purpose of water collection and a forum for socialization but also was of great spiritual significance. Our mythology dictates water to be a gift of life and also holy. The carving of stone deities on the stepwell denotes the same concept and somehow transforms this stepwell into a sacred place. The water of this step-well was also known to cure various ailments of humans and it might be due to the various medicinal herbs found in the ground.
The design of stepwell resembles an inverted temple. 64m in length, 20m in width and 27m in its depth, this stepwell is one of the largest of its kind. Although some portions are silted, the remaining ones are enough to mesmerize one.
Built in typical Maru-Gurjara style, it contains near about 800 sculptures. It has seven levels or galleries. The fourth level is the deepest. The central concept is Lord Vishnu’s Dashavatars. Various Sages, Brahmins, Mythological characters, apsaras (dancers for the heavenly kingdom) are found surrounding the primary Avatars. At the water level, you will find Lord Vishnu sculpture in his most famous pose; one in which He rests on Shesh Nag.
In 2014, UNESCO has listed Rani ki Vav as a World Heritage site and stressed on the fact that not only it showcases the finest craftsmanship and artistic value with the aesthetic appeal but also displays great technology in water management system.
How to reach:
Rani ki Vav in Patan can be reached from Ahmedabad or Mehsana by road by bus. You may avail jeeps or hire cars. It is a 3 .5 hours ride from Ahmedabad and 1-hour ride from Mehsana.
Alternatively, you may board a train from Mehsana and reach Patan.
The nearest airport to Patan is that of Ahmedabad.
Timings and entry fee:
It is open to visitors from 8.30 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.
Entry fee is Rs. 5 for Indians (subject to change).