After visiting Modhera Sun temple, we headed towards Patan, the city well-known for its Patola Sarees. I was excited as my wait was about to over to visit this beautiful place which is famous for Patola and UNESCO World heritage site-Rani ki Vav.
There are several monuments in India which attracts so many travellers from all over the world. Rani Ki vav is also an amazing piece of architecture and history of that glorious era of Gujarat.
Rani Ki Vav – an intricately constructed step well situated at Patan,Gujarat in India. It is located on the banks of Sarswati River; built by queen Udaymati as memorial to king Bhimdev in 11th century A.D. The sight was added as UNESCO world Heritage site in 2014.
Step wells are a distinctive form of subterranian water resource and storage systems on the Indian subcontinent, and have been constructed since the third millennium BC. The Vavs of Gujarat are not merely sites for collecting water and socializing, but also hold great spiritual significance. Originally, they were constructed quite simply, but became more intricate over the years, perhaps to make explicit the ancient concept of the sanctity of water with the addition of carved stone deities.
As like Modhera Sun temple, Rani ki vav also built-in the complex Maru- Gurjara architectural style, reflecting mastery of this complex technique and great beauty of it in detail and proportions. It is designed as an inverted temple, where one steps down various levels to the water; further divided into seven levels of stairs with sculptural panels of high artistic quality.
Ornate Step Well:
As we entered in the Complex; it was a huge manicured lawn area and one could not see the step well from the entry gate. We purchased ticket from the Counter and started walking towards Step Well. The complex is clean and well maintained place.
As we reached near the step well; we found a huge hole like construction below the ground. It was magnificent and breathtakingly beautiful in every term. It is east facing step well measuring 64 m long, 20 m wide and 27 m deep. You can imagine how large structure it has!!!
As you keep going down, beauty of the step well starts revealing step by step. You can see the sculptures and carvings on the side wall and pillars. It becomes more and more ornate as you reach downwards. The lower level has more intriguing stone work I have ever seen.
There are more than 500 principle sculptures and over a thousand minor ones combine with religious, mythological and secular imagery works on the side walls of step well.
The most significant sculptures which is on central level are in devotion to lord Vishnu in the forms of Dus avtars- Kalki, Rama, Krishna, Narsinh, Vaman, Varahi and others representing their return to the world. They are accompanied by Nagkanya (serpent women),Yoginis (female yoga practitioners), Apsaras (heavenly dancers). Interestingly, sculptures of Apsaras showcasing 16 different styles of make-up to look more attractive called Solah – shringar.
As you reach extreme downwards, you will lead to foundation floor of the Vav. At water level, you will see a carving of Vishnu reclining on one thousand snake heads.
There is also a small gate below the last step of the step well, with a 30 Km tunnel which is blocked by stones and mud that leads to the town of Sidhpur near Patan. It is said that it was used as an escape gateway for the king, who built the step well in the times of defeat.
You can view the deep well from the top by walking around the structure. The well is too richly carved.
After looking at these structures, it looks like one of the finest specimens of its kind that was available in 11th century. Being one of the largest structures; befitting its name, the Rani-Ki-Vav is now considered to be the queen among step wells of India.
After visiting Rani ki Vav we started towards another prominent site Sahstraling Talav; located few meters from Rani ki Vav. It is an artificial water storage tank constructed by king Sidharaj Jai Singh in the late 11th century. Like Rani ki vav, the architecture represents the integration of water management structure with the sanctity of water.
The tank used to receive the water from a canal of river Sarasvati river. The name ‘Sahasralinga’ mean ‘thousands of lings’ that were constructed on the edge of the tank, but today not a single shiva ling can seen. Thus it is perfect amalgamation of design for water conservation and reflection of the Hindu spirituality.
As you walk towards structure, you can see that parts of tank are buried in the sands of the river. It just remains a ruin today. As you reach the end of boundary, you can see the circular step well with steps. It more looks like amphitheater stage. The step well links to channel which at the end connects to temple. But in recent times, you cannot find any temple; but you can admire the grandeur of this great water tank.
How to Reach:
Patan is well-connected by Road with Ahmedabad[Major city 126 Kms away].Alternately you can take a train to Mehsana from Ahmedabad and then bus ride to Patan [54 kms from Mehsana]. GSRTC buses has good frequency.
Where to Stay:
If you are planning to stay at Patan; I suggest to stay at Hotel Navjivan near siddhpur Highway- 10-15 from the city. It is clean and comfortable budget stay option [INR 800-900/night]
You can combine a trip of Modhera, Patan and Sidhhpur[2 days] else can visit as a day trip from Ahmedabad.