Rani Ki Vav (the Queen's Stepwell) in Patan, Gujarat, India

Rani-ki-Vav, on the banks of the Saraswati River, was initially built as a memorial to a king in the 11th century AD.

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 (the Queen's Stepwell) in Patan, Gujarat, India

Step Well of Patan - "Rani Ki Vav"

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Rani (Queen) Udayamati commissioned this vav or stepwell, It is called "Rani Ki Vav" or the Well of The Queen, in 1063 in the memory of her husband King Bhimdev I of the Solanki dynasty. The vav was later flooded by the nearby Saraswati river and silted over until the late 1980s, when it was excavated by the Archeological Survey of India, with the carvings found in pristine condition. Rani Ki Vav is amongst the finest stepwells in India, and one of the most famous legacies of the ancient capital city.

This magnificent east facing step well measures approximately 64m long, 20m wide & 27m deep. A stepped corridor compartmented at regular intervals with pillared multi-storeyed pavilions is a unique feature. It was one of the largest and the most sumptuous structures of its type. It became silted up and much of it is not visible now, except for some rows of sculptured panels in the circular part of the well. Among its ruins one pillar still stands which is the proof not only of the elegance of its design, but also excellent example of this period.

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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 tires and is richly carved. The minute and exquisite carving of this vav is one of the finest specimens of its kind. Befitting its name, the Rani-Ki-Vav is now considered to be the queen among step wells of India.

There is also a small Gate below the last step of the step well which is having a 30 kilometre tunnel built (Now its has been blocked by stones and mud) which leads to the town of sidhpur near patan. It was used as an escape gateway for king who built the step well in the times of defeat.

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Rani-ki-Vav (The Queen's Stepwell) at Patan, Gujarat is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List (since 1998). Rani-ki-Vav will be Gujarat's second world heritage property to be placed on UNESCO's coveted list.

The steps begin at ground level, leading you down through the cool air through several pillared pavilions to reach the deep well below. There are more than 800 elaborate sculptures among seven galleries. The central theme is the Dasavataras, or ten incarnations of Vishnu, including Buddha. The avatars are accompanied by sadhus, brahmins, and apsaras (celestial dancers), painting their lips and adorning themselves. At water level you come to a carving of Sheshashayi-Vishnu, in which Vishnu reclines on the thousand-hooded serpent Shesha, where it is said he rests in the infinity between ages.

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Barely a two-hour drive from Ahmedabad near Patan town, this subterranean stepwell symbolizes the peak of Gujarat-style architecture. One would be awed at the intricate carvings of apsaras, the sculpted walls depicting different avatars of Vishnu and the Mother Goddess slaying demons Mahishasur Mardini.

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The step is oriented in east-west directions. The step well has long stepped corridor descending down to the underground tank, it is having four compartmental multi-storeyed pillared pavilions with circular draw well at rear end.

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The corridor walls, pillared pavilions and inner side of well are embellished with fine sculptures. Nearly 400 sculptures have survived out of the original estimated 800 sculptures, which comprise of Hindu gods and goddesses, apsaras and miscellaneous themes.

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The central theme is the Dasavataras, or ten incarnations of Vishnu, including Buddha. The avatars are accompanied by sadhus, brahmins, and apsaras (celestial dancers), painting their lips and adorning themselves. At water level you come to a carving of Sheshashayi-Vishnu, in which Vishnu reclines on the thousand-hooded serpent Shesha, where it is said he rests in the infinity between ages. The steps begin at ground level, leading down through the cool air through several pillared pavilions to reach the deep well below.

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Mahishasuramardini, Stepwell Rani-ki-Vav, Anhilawada Patan, Gujarat

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Sculptures at Rani-ki-Vav

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Sculptures at Rani-ki-Vav

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Sculptures at Rani-ki-Vav

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Read more at: Rani Ki Vav (Gujarat Tourism) , World Heritage Centre

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