Rani ki Vav ‘Queen’s Stepwell’
Monument dedicated to a King, Built by a Queen
Being one of the prominent attractions of Gujarat Rani ki Vav attracts a lot of tourists throughout the year. The architecture and historical relevance of this beautiful stepwell is definitely commendable and if you are planning for a trip to Gujarat, then it is certainly a must-visit place.
Located in Patan on the banks of river Saraswati, this beautiful piece of art has some facts that makes it even more interesting to explore. It’s good to know about a place before visiting it; isn’t it? Here are some of these interesting facts about Rani ki Vav that you should not miss!
Built by a Queen
India is filled with monuments dedicated by a lot of kings in the fond memory of their queens. However, Rani ki Vav stands as an exception, it was built in the loving memory of Bhimdev I by his beloved Queen, Rani Udayamati around 1063 AD. Rani ki Vav translates to ‘Queen’s Stepwell’. The stepwell, Rani ki Vav, is believed to be built by Rani Udayamati in 1063 in loving memory of her husband, King Bhimdev I – son of Mularaja, who was the founder of the Solanki dynasty of Anahilwada Pattan. Most of the stepwell has been silted up by the waters of the river Saraswati. Such is the beauty of the pillars of the vav that they take us to the period of the Solanki dynasty and of the marvel of their architecture. A mention of the construction of this vav by Rani Udayamati has been made in Prabandha Chintamani written by Merunga Suri in 1304 AD.
Architecture of the Stepwell
The vavs of Gujarat are not merely sites for collecting water and socializing, but also simultaneously hold great spiritual significance. They were originally constructed quite simply, but became more intricate over the years, perhaps to make explicit this ancient concept of the sanctity of water by carving it out in stone deities. You may thus enter Rani Ki Vav as if it is a subterranean temple.
The stepwell is around 30m deep and the architecture reflects the rich style used during the time of Solanki dynasty. The steps begin at ground level, leading you down through the cool air through several pillared pavilions to reach the deep well below. There are more than 800 elaborate sculptures among seven galleries. Most of the carvings on the walls and pillars of the vav are dedicated to Lord Vishnu in different forms of his incarnations, like Rama, Vamana, Mahishasuramardini, Kalki, Vamana and Varahi, to name a few. The avatars are accompanied by sadhus, brahmins, and apsaras (celestial dancers), painting their lips and adorning themselves. At water level you come to a carving of Sheshashayi-Vishnu, in which Vishnu reclines on the thousand-hooded serpent Shesha, where it is said he rests in the infinity between ages. With a prior appointment, a walk through the heritage structure can also be enjoyed by the tourists.
The vav was later flooded by the nearby Saraswati river and silted over until the late 1980s, when it was excavated by the Archeological Survey of India, with the carvings found in pristine condition. Rani Ki Vav is amongst the finest stepwells in India, and one of the most famous legacies of the ancient capital city.
The Tunnel That Reaches Sidhpur
Every monument has a mystery behind it and so does Rani ki Vav, beneath the last step of the well, there is a gate that leads to a 30m tunnel that opens to Sidhpur, a town close to Patan.
A visit to Patan is incomplete without a visit to Rani ki Vav that flaunts the craftsmanship of the artisans of those times. Other attractions that can be visited in Patan include the Jain temples and Sarasralinga Talav.
Open from 8am to 6pm.
Entry fee for Indians Rs. 5/-, Foreigners 2 USD
How to get there
By road: Intercity buses from Ahmedabad to Patan take 3.5 hours, and 1 hour from Mehsana. Shared jeeps are slightly quicker, but less comfortable.
By rail: The train can take you as far as Mehsana (1.5 hours). From there you will need to catch a bus to Patan.
By air: Nearest airport is Ahmedabad.
Link to UNESCO Site Click here
Link to Gujrat Tourism ‘Rani ki Vav’ Page Click here