Photographer's Note

Patan was a capital of the western Indian state of Gujarat in medieval times. The town was founded in 745 AD. During the period of the Solanki dynastys rule, the stepwell called the Rani ki vav (Queens step well) was constructed.

Rani Ki Vav is the oldest and the grandest stepwell in the state of Gujarat. It is believed to have been built during 1022 to 1063 AD. The construction was completed by the widowed queen Udayamati, the wife of King Bhimdev I.

Dimension-wise, Rani Ki Vav is 64 metres long and 20 metres wide. It was originally constructed of seven stories of which only five are now preserved. The shaft of this step well is 27 metres deep. The stepwell is so huge that the tourists appear to be ants climbing an anthill. Check out the man in the left of center at the far end & you would understand...It is difficult to capture in one frame the entire 'depth' (both in horizontal & vertical sense) from a single POV. After trying from a lot of different spots, I found this spot which seemed to provide the best POV.

Due to silting, a major portion of the well has deteriorated. There were some renovation exercises in 1980, which have restored some of the ancient glory of the place. One of its pillars is so beautifully carved, that it reminds one of the ancient charm of the monument. It appears the well is made up of bricks. There is small gateway just below the last step of the Rani Ki Vav well. There are 7 storeys in the step-well and the steps are intricately carved. There are sculptures of the avatars of the Hindu Gods, Jain Gurus, Goddesses, Apsaras, etc. Nearly 400 sculptures have survived out of the original estimated 800 sculptures. The central theme is the Dasavataras, or ten incarnations of Vishnu, including Buddha. It is said that around 60 years back there were Ayurvedic plants near the well which possessed medicinal properties. Due to this, the water of the well also gained curative powers capable of healing viral disease, fever, etc.

Also, there were Chambers built in the Rani Ki Vav. Here, the royal families rested in the summer months. The water from the well acted as the natural air conditioner by decreasing the heat and making the breeze cool. The archaeologists are thinking of excavating the nearby area. It is believed that there must be palaces and royal residences in the vicinity, which used the well as the medium for air cooling.

Rani Ki Vav is an excellent example of subterranean architecture in Gujarat...no other Vav is so profusely adorned with such exquisite carvings. Rani Ki Vav is deservedly one of the 29 Indian sites submitted for tentative World Heritage List.

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Additional Photos by Angshuman Chatterjee (Angshu) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 7851 W: 324 N: 16060] (56760)
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