Rani Ki Vav
Rani-ki-Vav, on the banks of the Saraswati River, was initially built as a memorial to a king in the 11th century AD. Stepwells are a distinctive form of subterranean water resource and storage systems on the Indian subcontinent, and have been constructed since the 3rd millennium BC. They evolved over time from what was basically a pit in sandy soil towards elaborate multi-storey works of art and architecture. Rani-ki-Vav was built at the height of craftsmens’ ability in stepwell construction and the Maru-Gurjara architectural style, reflecting mastery of this complex technique and great beauty of detail and proportions. Designed as an inverted temple highlighting the sanctity of water, it is divided into seven levels of stairs with sculptural panels of high artistic quality; more than 500 principle sculptures and over a thousand minor ones combine religious, mythological and secular imagery, often referencing literary works. The fourth level is the deepest and leads into a rectangular tank 9.5 m by 9.4 m, at a depth of 23 m. The well is located at the westernmost end of the property and consists of a shaft 10 m in diameter and 30 m deep.
Rani-ki-Vav is an exceptional example of a distinctive form of subterranean water architecture of the Indian subcontinent, the stepwell, which is located on the banks of the Saraswati River in Patan. Initially built as a memorial in the 11th century CE, the stepwell was constructed as a religious as well as functional structure and designed as an inverted temple highlighting the sanctity of water. Rani-ki-Vav is a single-component, water management system divided into seven levels of stairs and sculptural panels of high artistic and aesthetic quality. It is oriented in an east-west direction and combines all of the principle components of a stepwell, including a stepped corridor beginning at ground level, a series of four pavilions with an increasing amount of storeys towards the west, the tank, and the well in tunnel shaft form. More than five hundred principle sculptures and over a thousand minor ones combine religious, mythological and secular imagery, often referencing literary works.
Rani-ki-Vav impresses not only with its architectural structure and technological achievements in water sourcing and structural stability, but also in particular with its sculptural decoration, of true artistic mastery. The figurative motifs and sculptures, and the proportion of filled and empty spaces, provide the stepwell’s interior with its unique aesthetic character. The setting enhances these attributes in the way in which the well descends suddenly from a plain plateau, which strengthens the perception of this space.
Open from 8am to 6pm.
Entry fee for Indians Rs. 5/-, Foreigners 2 USD
Rani-ki-Vav is preserved with all its key architectural components and, despite missing pavilion storeys, its original form and design can still be easily recognized. A majority of sculptures and decorative panels remain in-situ and some of these in an exceptional state of conservation. Rani-ki-Vav is a very complete example of the stepwell tradition, even though after geotectonic changes in the 13th century it does no longer function as a water well as a result of the change to the Saraswati River bed. It was however the silting of the flood caused during this historic event, which allowed for the exceptional preservation of Rani-ki-Vav for over seven centuries.
All components including the immediate surrounding soils which adjoin the vertical architecture of the stepwell are included in the property. In terms of intactness, the property does not seem to have experienced major losses since its flooding and silting in the 13th century. However, Patan like many Indian urban centres is experiencing rapid urban growth and the western expansion of the city towards Rani-ki-Vav has to be carefully controlled to protect the integrity of the property in the future.
Rani-ki-Vav has a high level of authenticity in material, substance, design, workmanship and, to a certain extent, atmosphere, location and setting. While it maintained its authentic material and substance, it also required some punctual reconstructions for structural stability. In all instances reconstructed elements were only added where structurally required to protect remaining sculpture, and they are indicated by smooth surfaces and a lack of decoration which can be easily distinguished from the historic elements. Around the outer terrace at ground level, slopes of smooth descent, a so-called sacrificial terrace, were created to prevent soil erosion following stronger rain falls. Unfortunately the Rani-ki-Vav cannot retain authenticity in use and function as a result of the altered ground water levels following the relocation of Saraswati River.
The Rani ki Vav is a UNESCO World Heritage site.It is recently added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. It is the carved and amazing step well, which is located in the Patan is a small town of Gujrata in India. The Rani ki Vav is built in 1603 by the Udayamati, who is the queen of Patan in the memory of her beloved husband ,king Bhimdev I, who was the son of the founder of the Solanki dynasty of Anahilwada Pattan.
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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.