Rani ki Vav – The Queen’s Stepwell and Lord Vishnu Avatars
Rani ki Vav is a UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. It is step-well with intricate works at Patan in Gujarat state, India.
Rani-ki-Vav means “the Queen’s Stepwell”. Rani in Hindi Language means Queen and Vav means well. The Step-well is on the banks of River Saraswati. It was built by the Queen in memory of King Bhima (r. c. 1022-1064), the Solanki dynasty ruler. The step-well is constructed in Maru-Gurjara style of architectural and is different from other water storage or water resource conservation systems. There are seven levels of steps leading to the wells. There is an inverted temple inside the Step-well. There are more than 800 sculptures among the seven galleries inside the well.
The construction of the step-well is believed to have started by widowed queen Udayamati. The step-well got flooded in course of time and was excavated and restored by Archaeological Survey of India in the 80’s. The well is not in its original condition. You can see some ruined structures along with some other parts which are still in pristine condition.
The well is 64 meters in length, 20 meters in width and is 27 meters deep. There is a small gate with an underground tunnel connecting the well to the town of Sidhpur; at 30 kilometers distance. The tunnel is currently blocked with slit, mud and stones. The tunnel seems to be the escape route for the kings, during the worst times of facing defeat.
The Step-wells hold considerable spiritual significance. Lord Vishnu is depicted in different forms (Lord Vishnu Avatars) as sculpture in the step-well. When you reach the water level at the bottom, you can see Lord Vishnu carving in a reclined posture, on a Shesha, a thousand hooded serpent. This posture means that Lord Vishnu is resting in the infinity between ages. The other avatars of Lord Vishnu can be seen at upper levels.
In earlier days, these type of wells were also used as a place for socializing rather than just collecting water or as a place of religious importance.
The title “Cleanest Iconic Place” has bagged by Rani ki Vav in October 2016 at the Indian Sanitation Conference, held at New Delhi.
How Do I Go to Rani ki Vav?
Patan town where Rani ki Vav is situated is at a distance of around 110 kilometers from Ahmedabad, the Textile capital of India and also capital of the state of Gujarat.
There is a railway station and bus station at Patan and is well connected by roads to other parts of the state. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport at Ahmedabad is the nearest airport to Rani ki Vav or The Queen’s Step well.