|The rani-ki-vav is located 2kms to the north-west of
patan, ancient anahillavada, also known as Anahillapura,
Analavata, Haharwalah, lies on the
left bank of Saraswati river. It is about 57kms from Mehasana, the district head
quarter of Gujarat. The historic town of patan was the capital of Gujarat for
over 600 years between the 8th and 14th centuries. Under the reign of Bhimdeva
(a.d.1022-63), his son Karandeva and grand son Siddharaja, Anahilvada, attained
its greatest splendor and the Solanki dominion, its widest extent and highest
prosperity. There are many remains of structures in the form of temples, tombs,
mosques, wells and tanks, etc.
Rani-ki-vav, the most magnificent step well in Gujarat is said to have been
constructed by Udaymati; the consort of Bhimdeva-i(1022-63 ad.), of Solanki
dynasty, it is just beside the ancient fortification wall and not far from the
embankment of Sahasralinga talav which was excavated under the command of Siddharaja
Jayasimha of 11-12th century.
The vav measuring about 64mts. Long, 20mts wide & 27mts deep, is
laid out in the east-west direction with the well proper being in the west &
entrance in the east. It is built up of bricks faced with hewn stones.
It has stepped corridors beginning at the ground level & leading down to
the kund, it possesses four surviving parts which are the entrance staircase,
the side wall of the stepped corridors, mandapas or multi-storied
pillared pavilions, and the back walls of the well. The roof of the top storey
of each pavilion reaching up to the ground level. The pillars which support the
roof have square base decorated with Ghat-Pallav (vase and foliage) motifs,
quadruple brackets at the top, having four armed kichakas.
The architectural brilliance and elegance of the
vav, is represented in its
pristine glory in the ornamental work. The beautifully proportioned sculptures,
Vishnu (dasha avataras) as Varaha and Kalki, Bhairava, Ganesha, Surya, Kubera,
Lakshmi-Narayan , Astadikpalas and other forms adorn the walls flanking the
staircase and within the walls of the well, being the ample testimony to the
mastery of the Solanki sculptors, in depicting rythm,vigour, beauty and various
moods in stone.
The female figures have been depicted in various poses of
nagkanya and yogini etc.
The shaft of the well is highly ornamented with intricate carvings. This wall
projects the large vertical brackets in pairs which supported the different
galleries of the well. The brackets are arranged in tiers.
The full size sculptures of the stepwell are taken from the entire Hindu
pantheon, for example, Vishnu, Shiva and their various aspects appear with or
without their consorts.
The figure include, the lord of preservation, Vishnu, shown asleep on the
coils of the giant multi-headed serpent, ananta, which finds prominent position
in the central niche on the different levels of the well.
Traveler arthur mallet visited the site in the first half of 19th century.
Henry cousens and james burgess also visited the step well in Patan in 1886-87
a.d. and found that the vav was completely filled up with earth and only back
wall of the well and pillar of torana was visible. An early account of Rani-Ki-Vav
is found in james tod's "travels in western India" stating that
materials of this vav were used in building another on in Patan.
The step well was buried for centuries and suffered damage in past due to
neglect and flood of the river Saraswati. After independence, the Rani-Ki-Vav
came into the custody of archaeological survey of India as protected monument
of national importance. Till 1960's nobody new that there existed the most
ornate and highly sculptured vav. At this time, the vav was completely filled up
except the top most portion of the well.
The painstaking efforts of archaeological survey of India exposed the hidden
treasure of sculptural and architectural wealth in its original dimension
and splendor through careful excavation, desilting and removal of debris. The
loose sculptures, architectural members and stones accumulated in the vav were
lifted and set right in their position.
The minute and exquisite carving of this largest and most sumptuous vav is
one of the finest specimens of its kind. Befitting its name, the Rani-Ki-Vav is
now considered to be the queen among step wells of India.