Have you ever stepped in stepwell and walked down 8 floors into it? Well, then you must visit Rani ki vav, just a few minutes from the Patan in the state of Gujarat, India. It is a mysterious stepwell that goes 27 meters beneath the earth. It is a stepwell that stands proudly since the 11th century AD. Rani ki Vav is a monument of love, a distinctive water storage system and a world full of royal secrets. Its 500 sculptures take you back in time. And then there is 13Km tunnel under the last step that witnessed many great escapes.
The new 100 Rupees currency note issued by Reserve Bank of India has image of Rani ki vav on it.
Rani ki vav is considered as the finest and one of the largest examples of the stepwell architecture in India built in the memory of the king Bhima I (r. c. 1022–1064) by his queen Udayamati (Chaulukya Dynasty). Rani ki Vav is meant Queen’s stepwell. Depicting its name Rani ki Vav is considered the queen amongst step-wells in India.
In India, step-wells are being used for centuries to provide water, shade and community focus. at Rani ki vav there are 7 levels where visitors can gather to escape the hit.
Each floor is ornamented with multiple pillared pavilions adorned with an intricate sculpture of Hindu deities. The sculptures like Lord Vishnu and various Avatar’s of lord Vishnu are depicted here along with his Virat Swaroop. Various incarnations of lord Vishnu also present here in their glory like Varah, Vaman, Parshuram, Ram and Kalki. Prominent other sculptures are the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, apart from that Ganesh, Devi Laxmi, Kuber, Mahishasurmardini, Balram, Parvati, Agni, Indra, Hanuman, Shiv-Parvati, Yamraj and Mahakal Bhairav.
The sculptures of God and goddesses are surrounded by elephants, yoginis, Ashtadigpal, Naagkanyas, Kapali and Apsara’s in various mood depicting. The world-famous Patola designs are also carved here.
The uniqueness of Rani ki Vav lies not only into its monumental scale and sculpture representation but also in the creative genius of its builders in transforming simple utility space into an iconic monument of the unprecedented concept of design and beauty.
Excavation by Archaeological Survey of India
The stepwell was later completely flooded by the nearby Saraswati River and silted over. In the 1940s, the excavations carried out under the Baroda State revealed the stepwell. In 1986, the major excavation and restoration were carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India.
In 2011, a team from Scotland flew to Gujarat to spend 2 weeks working closely with heritage experts from the Archaeological Survey of India to digitally record their neatly carved terraces of the stepwell using 3D laser scanner as part of ‘Scottish Ten project’.
Each level is decorated with multiple pillared pavilions adorned with an intricate sculpture of Hindu deities. The sheer number of carvings and their complexity was the major challenge of digitally recording this site.
It was added to the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites on 22 June 2014.
Rani ki Vav bagged the title of “Cleanest Iconic Place” in India at the Indian Sanitation Conference (INDOSAN) 2016 in New Delhi in October 2016.
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