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Rani ki Vav Patan in Gujarat: Beautiful Queen’s Stepwell Aakash During my last trip to Gujarat for 2 weeks, I have visited many places. I have decided to take some day trips to the historic places around Ahmedabad. So, I have kept 3 days for Ahmedabad. On one of these days, I visited Rani Ki Vav and Sahastraling Tank in Patan, Modhera Sun Temple, a Patan saree weaving unit and ended our day at Adalaj Ki Vav. There are buses and trains from Ahmedabad to Patan but I decided to go by taxi to make my travel comfortable. It is advisable to start the day early because in morning crowd is thin and it’s easy to see the Rani Ki Vav without the mad rush of tourist. I reached Ravi ki Vav in Patan around 9.00 AM and there were very few people in the complex. My driver stopped in an almost empty parking and pointed toward a small one-room building, which is the ticket counter. I entered from the gate and looked around in the garden area. Initially, I thought….. where I came and what I am going to see after 2.30 Hours travel from Ahmedabad to Patan because there is nothing visible from the main gate. There were gardeners working and I had asked them “where is vav”, one of them pointed with a finger. I moved but still could not see anything from that distance then I noticed a 3-4 feet high stone wall. As I moved towards the wall and when I looked on the other side of the stone wall, I filled with joy to see the enormous structure. I knew that Vav’s are made below the ground level but most of the Vav’s have some structure on top but in Rani ki Vav there is nothing on top of it. The Rani ki Vav is surrounded by gardens and there is no structure on the top of it like Adalaj ki Vav. Rani ki vav was built in 11th century on the banks of river Saraswati but later on, river disappeared. The Vav was built during the rule of the Chaulukya dynasty. It was built by Queen Udayamati in the memory of his late husband Bhima. This stepwell was constructed as a functional structure to provide water to the local people. The religious designs on the walls of Rani ki Vav were made not only to decorate but also to symbolize the Vav as an inverted temple highlighting the sanctity of water. This stepwell is east-facing and measures approximately 64 meters long, 20 meters wide & 27 meters deep. Rani ki Vav is a structure for water management and it is divided into seven levels of stairs. The stepped corridor has pillared multistory pavilions at regular intervals. This is the deepest existing Vav in Gujarat. The depth of Vav helped in procuring the water in summer months when the water level drops. The side of stepwell has sculptural of high artistic and aesthetic quality on both sides. There are around five hundred main sculptures and approximately a thousand minor ones of religious and mythological importance. The stepwell was the main source of water in the area and it is said that it was the place where queen used to spend time with her maids and friends. Later on, Vav was flooded by the nearby Saraswati River and it remained silted over for centuries until the late 1980s. Only a small part of the upper floor of Vav was visible. The Archaeological Survey of India excavated and restored it, the carving on the walls were discovered in pristine condition. This beautiful stepwell Rani ki Vav is beautiful and a unique structure. The name is apt for this Vav because it is truly a queen of all Vavs. The sculptures on it’s walls and pillars are beautifully crafted. Rani ki Vav was added into UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 2014 and is got the award for the cleanest monument of India. A TO Z INDIA FEBRUARY 2022 PAGE 24

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