Thursday, 21 July 2016

Gujarat diaries:Rani Ki Vav

Rani Ki Vav is an intricately constructed stepwell buuilt in the complex Maru-gurjara architectural style with an inverted temple and seven levels of stairs, situated in the town of Patan, Gujarat. It is situated on the bank of River Saraswati. The magnificent step-well is said to be have been constructed by Udaymati,the queen of Bhimdev-I in the last quarter of 11th century AD. Bhimdev-I was son of Mularaja, the founder of the Solanki Dynasty of Anahilwada Patan.

The vav measuring about 64 meters long, 20 meters wide and 27 meters deep is laid out in the east-west direction with well proper in the west. This well has a pillared multi-stored pavilion, a drawn well and a large tank for collecting surplus water. It must have been one of the largest and the most sumptuous structure of its kind. A part only of the west well is extant from which it appears that the wall had been built of brick and faced with stone. From this wall project vertical bracket in pairs, this supported the different galleries of the well shaft proper. This bracketing is arranged in tiers and is richly carved. There is a gateway beneath the last step which opens into a 30km tunnel that leads straight to the town of Siddpur. It was a escape tunnel for the kings to escape a defeat and surrender.

The architectural brilliance and the elegance of the vav is represented in its pristine glory in the ornamental work. The beautifully proportioned sculptures of gracefully carved Mahisasuramardini, Parvati and other Saiva sculptures, Vishnu in various forms, Bhairava, Ganesha, Surya.Kubera,Ashtadikpalas, Lakshminarayana andother forms adorn the walls. The female figures have been depicted in various poses of apsaras, Nagakanyas, Yoginis etc. The step-well represents an architectural monument of human creative genius in its variety of motifs and its elegance of proportions, which frame an intriguing space, both functional and aesthetic.

After independence, the vav came into the custody of Archaeological Survey of India and was declared as protected monument pf national importance. This step-well was buried for centuries and suffered damage in past due to negligence and flood in the Saraswati river.Till 1960's nobody knew there existed the most ornate and highly sculpted vav. At this time the vav was completely filled up expect the top. ASI started excavation in 1958 which exposed the hidden treasures of sculptural and architectural wealth. 



















The best time to visit this monument is between October and March.The area surrounding the step-well have beneath well developed into a beautiful garden where you can spend time sitting beneath the lush green and shady trees.

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