Rani-Ki-Vav at Patan
I was at a Museum in Sirpur, Chhattisgarh where a room filled with beautiful pictures of all around India were displayed. I recognised most of the places in every state except a pillared structure with a lot of carvings on it. So I quickly grabbed my phone and clicked a picture of it so I could read about this place later. A little research on the internet immediately made me plan my next holiday to the Jewel of the West of India – The State of Gujarat.
A three hours drive from Ahmedabad with our hired ZoomCar lead us to Patan(140kms). We first checked-in at a hotel and soon freshened up to spend the evening at Rani-Ki-Vav. Funny enough, this was the second time we were offered a Foreigner’s ticket at the gate. First time a similar incident took place when we visited the Bibi-ka-Maqbara Tomb in Aurangabad. Perhaps the officials have not seen many tourists here and therefore let me make an attempt through this post to encourage all my readers to visit this architectural marvel – Rani-ki-Vav.
As we entered..
A beautiful manicured lawn, green and very well maintained is all that we could see around. There was no sign of the step-well to our surprise and in fact we were settled with just the lawn. So much of open space, we rarely get to see in the city where we live back home. Moving in the centre of the lawn, we noticed a crater where the step well was built below the ground level. As I walked down the stairs gracefully (adding drama in my every movement), I felt nothing less than a Queen! The stairs are not built straight but rather makes you switch right and left while you climb down the triangular stairways. Every level brings you closer to the intricate carvings on the wall.
There are prominent sculptures of all sizes, each one more beautiful than the other. Figures of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Mahisasurmardini and many others adorn the walls. The Lady figurines carved on these walls will leave you spellbound. They are seen applying kajal to their eyes, braiding their lengthy hair and with all the Solah Shringars (16 ways to adorn the body). These actions add to their different intimate expressions. A coy smile from the apsaras will invite you to come even closer to them. And I wished they could for a moment step out from the stones and come to life.
About the place..
Water wells have played a key role in the architecture of India since the most ancient civilisation at Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa. Gujarat is also famous as the land of vavs or step wells since it is an area of scanty rainfall.
Rani-ki-Vav was built by Queen Udayamati in memory of her King Bhimdev I of the Solanki dynasty. This makes the monument more unique than most architectural wonders in India that are all built by the Kings and not Queens! Due to the floods at near-by River Saraswati, this step-well remained covered with silt for several years. A magnificent place like this was completely wiped off from history for centuries.
Nobody knew that there existed the most ornate and highly sculptured vav beneath where only two ends were visible at the ground level. In 1958, the team of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) started excavations . After years of carefully digging, an exceptional water management system of 7 levels was discovered. Located on the banks of river Saraswati, this step well is the finest example of unique craftsmanship. Rani-Ki-Vav is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Climbing up we saw..
The well now is not accessible as you climb down from the main structure. So we started to head back to the ground level when we suddenly heard a scream, that of a peacock. We walked in the direction of the sound and found a beautiful peacock up standing up on the compound wall. As we came nearer, he started to run around on the green lawn carpet with his flamboyant plumage. This was my first ever encounter with a peacock in its natural habitat. I kept following the peacock for a while, see it jump up the wall, run around and then came “the moment” I was waiting for – he spread open his feathers in the fields nearby. Ah that sight, although from a distance, was spectacular!
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One evening at this park in Gujarat, I saw such a huge variety of birds that count more than the birds I had seen in my entire life put together!! . They were colourful, produced interesting chirping sounds and they were not caged. . All this because – the place had NO vehicles allowed in this area, there was greenery everywhere and the locals fed the birds and monkeys every day. And hey, also the place I saw the whole big vanarsena😉 . The state of Gujarat has so many peacocks in every park, i may have seen at least 20 to 30 in a day. They do not however come closer to people and I had been running around after them in dense jungle to see them in their truest form. I saw them dancing with their plumage open and trying to get attention from their female counterparts. Thank God it was raining that day. . To click this picture I had to run barefoot so he is unaware that he is been followed 😂😂But it was all worth it! The second picture was clicked when he jumped almost a feet or two, to be on that pillar. . #gujarat #gujarattourism #gogujarat #gujaratdiaries #gujarat_igers #traveldiaries #travelblogger #indiantravelblogger #thetropicalmoon #travelindia
I was back to the west side of Rani-ki-Vav looking for the well from ground level. The guard standing there informed us, of the many peacocks in that area. And that, they visit the park every evening. The Well looked very scary and deep from that height over the ground and also justifies why there is a permanent guard there.
Sculptures as you look closely
As you walk about a kilometre behind the Rani ki Vav, there is an even older step-well called the Sahastralinga Talav. Can you imagine these complex water management structures, huge in size, built without any machineries or modern tools, just out of stones and rocks? How intelligent the architects and builders must have been! It is only when we look at the historic structures in that perspective that we shall learn to admire them even more. Sadly today, only some ruins remain at this place.
Few steps further, you will find a huge amphitheater-like structure also a part of this Water Management system.
To shop: Patan Patola Sarees. The fabric has double Ikkat prints seen on both sides.
Where to Stay: The Grand Raveta, Patan. The hotel comes with a good restaurant and very helpful staff. We had issues with our hired car here, that failed to start the next day after heavy rains in the night. The Hotel Manager immediately sent a mechanic. The Car service we booked was taking care of our repair charges. Even then the mechanic refused to take money from us after knowing we were guests at this hotel. I would highly recommend this place to stay as its quite affordable, has good food options and conveniently located near the Step-Well.
Entry Fee: INR 15 for Indians and INR 200 for Others (approx)
Best Time to Visit: You may choose a cooler month from July to February. Between early morning till afternoon time, this place has fairly less crowd. The place remains open between 8AM to 6PM.