Sunday, November 6, 2016

Vavs of Gujarat - Rani Ni Vav

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!

46 comments:

  1. what a beautiful site to visit !!Well written

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  2. Wow.. Amazingly written.. Beautiful captures.. Anybody who reads this post, gets tempted to visit this place.

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    1. Thank you so much Ranjani...I wanted people to love the place with this post :D

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  3. Vavs always fascinate me. Not been to all but have visited Rani ni Vav and had a wonderful time there.
    Wish to visit some more. :)

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    1. Same here...I have just visited Chand Baori, Adalaj and Rani Ni Vav and have loved all of them! Wish to visit more in future :D

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  4. It is amazing isn't it! Loved your pictures.

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    1. It is amazing!
      Glad you liked the pictures :)

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  5. JONA | BACKPACKING WITH A BOOK: My friend just visited Chand Baori, another well in India. How intricate the details are. Visited India last July and enjoyed it a lot!

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    1. That is what amazes me about these old places - intricate works that tell you so much about a place, the locals and the whole era!

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  6. It's places like this that really make me wonder how much time and effort it takes to put it together. 7 levels with over 800 sculptures is a LOT of work. And they are so gorgeous and well detailed! Such an amazing thing to see.

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    1. I know right! You can't help but be all lost in time and wonder about it all!

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  7. Oh, wow, this place looks amazing! Rani Ni Va is simply mesmerizing. The sculptures, the sheer size of it, and the history attached to it are just so inspiring! I'd love to go visit one day.

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    1. Alina I am sure you would love the place when you visit :)

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  8. We have some ruins in Ireland but nothing like this. This well is so ornate. It's interesting it was built by a queen ☺

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    1. Marteen would you believe if I told you that this is just one of 1000 such places in India!

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  9. How incredible! I never got to Gujarat and it looks like I missed so much! The carvings remind me of the Jain temples in Jaisalmer. I could spend hours there just looking at all the details. Amazing!

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    1. The structures in Gujarat around 9th to 14th century were actually heavily inspired by Jain architecture!

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  10. Gujarat and Rajasthan are brimming with these rich art and architectural structures. Step wells are so intriguing and remarkable. Rani ni Vav looks well preserved with those elegant and graceful carvings still intact. We are yet to make to Gujarat and whenever we could this will be high on list.

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    1. To be frank...the whole of Indian Subcontinent is an architectural wonderland. And as far as Rani ni Vav is concerned it seriously is very well preserved. Hope you get to do a Gujarat trip soon - I am telling you, you will live it! :)

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  11. This seems to be in a very good condition, The sculptures do have definite forms. I hope it is maintained well. I had visited the Adlaj one and was quite disappointed with the dirt all around.

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    1. It is very well maintained, and you would be surprised to know that Adalaj is also clean and well maintained now! :D

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  12. Your pictures are absolutely amazing, the architecture of the site... I'm speechless! I can't even imagine how spectacular it must be to be there! Thank you for sharing :)

    Léa - Be-Sparkling

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    1. Thank you so much. Glad you liked the article :)

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  13. I have yet to visit stepwells in India. From the pictures I have seen,they look amazing! It's also incredible to know that they already had the ingenuity in architecture and science back then. Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Glad you liked the article, and I would say plan a trip for the western parts of India soon. You will love it.

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  14. I can't believe that the early people are so creative and detailed decorating a steps well! The statues are so beautiful and the whole environment. I can imagine its more stunning beautiful when there's water in it.

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    1. I always feel people were far more creative and scientifically sharp than we are. Just look at all the heritage sites around! :D

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  15. I've never heard of step walls and their purpose before! Love the intricate arcitecture and the statues of gods carved into it.

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  16. This is so precious and intricate stone-work heritage! I hope the government realizes this, and preserves it well. I love the photographs and the details about historical relevance for Rani Ni Vav. Stepwells and a photographer's delight!

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    1. Divya you would be happy to know that the place is well protected and kept spotless by the government! Glad you liked the article :)

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  17. I can't stop looking at your photos, the architecture is so stunning! I can't believe that this structure is an actually step well. I can't imagine how much work went into each sculpture and decoration. You can tell that it was built out of love, as only strong feelings can create such majestic structures!

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    1. Thank you so much. Glad you liked the pics! And yes the place is indeed a work of love and dedication!

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  18. Wow what a beautiful location! I love visiting ruins and getting a glimpse of lost cultures. The sculptures are so detailed and you captured them very well.

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  19. Your first photo got me. I love ancient architectures like these. Very beautiful. Not to mention the history behind it all.

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    1. Thank you so much. Glad you liked the article :)

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  20. Rani Ni Vav looks incredible!!!! I absolutely loved visiting the ancient ruins of Egypt, but Rani Ni Vav looks just so amazing. This is going right up on my bucket list. I could spend hours here, taking so many photographs. To be so close to history like this would just be such a wonderful experience.

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    1. Soraya if you love history and architecture, be sure to visit India soon! You will be amazed at the architectural wonders here :D

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  21. Such a beautiful place ! Defo somewhere I would visit and take a million pictures.The carvings are so intricate and in such good condition.

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    1. It is indeed a very beautiful place and just the kind of place where you could spend hours soaking in history and clicking pics :)

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  22. This place has been eluding me for a while . Thanks for the virtual tour. Loved seeing those intricate details of the carvings and architecture. Has doubled my respect for the place.

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    1. Ami hopefully the place will call you soon, you never know. Glad you liked the virtual tour! :D

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  23. love the way you tell about this place. It’s amazing information the places with wonderful pics. I’ve never gone there before. Noted it!

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  24. Hey keep posting such good and meaningful articles.

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