|First glimpse of the majestic Rani Ni Vav|
A small town, that kept fading away into a village as our car moved ahead, and we were greeted with a huge lush green lawn. I visited Patan, some months back to visit one of the World Heritage sites of UNESCO and this is how it looked at first. But after walking for 10 minutes or so on that lawn, I was astounded by what I saw. A wide deep gap in the ground, layers and layers of steps, and some carvings visible even at that distance; but this was nothing compared to what I was to witness as and how I got closer to Rani Ni Vav.
|When ruins speak|
Rani Ni Vav is one of the most exquisite step wells of India. Step wells are believed to be inspired by wells of Indus Valley Civilization but they became prominent architectural structures in western India sometime in the late 7th century. Step wells were not very ornate in the beginning and were built with the sole purpose of storing water and providing a common place to public to gather and get respite from the harsh sun of the semi-arid region. With time, merchants and kings got involved in building more vavs in the area and started carving and detailing them, some still present some lost to the sands of time.
|Some of the many sculptures inside|
Rani Ni Vav is one such Vav of that era but instead of a king, a queen built it in memory of her King, hence the name. Build in the 11th Century under Solanki Rule, it is said that Queen Udaymati built this step well in memory of her husband king Bhimadev.
|Can you believe they were carved on stone in 11th Century?|
According to locals, queen wanted to do something great but beneficial to others in memory of her king and the royal Wazir told her about building the step well. Though the usage of the well is not known for a fact, due to the structures and statues in the Vav it is speculated that the well was used to religious purposes.
|A very well preserved Maa Durga Statue|
Most of the Vavs in Gujarat are believed to be made like an inverted temple for worshiping sanctity of water and Rani Ni Vav is no exception. But what makes it stand out among all the Vavs of the region is the level of detailing the pillars and the walls have. The vav has 7 levels that are heavily carved and have about 800 sculptures!
|One of the statues depicting Kingly life and ceremonies.|
The sculptures in the Vav range from various kingly ceremonies to the 10 Avatars of Vishnu, to the sculptures of the Devis and Yoginis. Every statue is brought alive in stone by the ornate carving and would never fail to impress the visitors. The last level around the actual water well is the most detailed of the lot and unfortunately unreachable. But even the sight of it leaves you mesmerised, trust me!
|Statues of Goddess are everywhere|
I didn’t even realize how time passed away while I was admiring the artwork of the old locals of the area. Even the pillars, carved in shape of Kalash – traditional pots, tell you a story!
|Don't the Pillars also tell you something?|
Rani Ni Vav was silted by Sabarmati and was recently excavated by Indian Archaeological society between 1960 and 1980. Due to this the carvings are still very well preserved and protected, and the Gujarat Government plans to keep the place that way! Being a gem in terms of architecture and one of the cleanest Heritage sites of the world (thanks to Narendra Modi’s love for cleanliness) few years back it was added to UNESCO Heritage sites list as well. Oh! For people who say Taj Mahal is a symbol of love due to its architecture, India has many structures to give it tough competition and the leading one in that list for me would be Rani Ni Vav.
|Humans, Gods, animals and emotions, you can find it all on its walls|
Does this convince you enough to visit Rani Ni Vav? A lot of you would be travelling to Gujarat in the next 2 months for Rann Utsav; keep Ahmedabad and the Vavs in mind if you wish to explore the state beyond the Rann. I would soon let you know about another Vav in the area!
|Every stone literally speaks or art, culture and heritage|
How to Get There?
It is about 125km from Ahmedabad Airport.
Closes Airport – Ahmedabad
Closest Railway Station – Mehsana Junction
Best Time to Visit
Late August to February – Avoid the summers as the area heats up a lot.
|Just look at the detailing of the stone statues!|