RANI KI VAV
What is Rani Ki Vav?
Rani kivav is an intricately constructed stepwell situated in the town of Patan in Gujarat, India. It was included in the list of UNESCO's World Heritage Site on 22 June 2014.
Raniki Vav, “the Queen’s stepwell”, at Patan, the medieval capital of Gujarat, was built in the last decades of the eleventh century by Queen Udayamati as a memorial to her husband Bhimadeva-1 of the Caulukya dynasty. Measuring more than sixty-five meters in length, it is among the largest in Gujarat, and in terms of its sculptures which number about five hundred, surpasses all other examples.
The stepwell, or a well with an underground flight of steps leading down to the level of the water, developed early in the arid region of Western India and Rajasthan. In the earliest stepwells nothing more than plain dressed stone protected the sides of the sandy pit, but gradually architects devised the means to strengthen these structures, the corridors expanded vastly in length and width, landing were introduces at regular intervals, pavilions with multiple storeys were built and the stepped passage, which to begin with was only a practical adjunct to a well acquired a character of its own. In this way, the humble village well was transformed into a strikingly original architectural form.
This magnificent east facing step well measures approximately 64m long, 20m wide & 27m deep. The fourth level is the deepest and leads into a rectangular tank 9.5 m by 9.4 m, at a depth of 23 m. The well is located at the westernmost end of the property and consists of a shaft 10 m in diameter and 30 m deep.
A stepped corridor compartmented at regular intervals with pillared multi-storeyed pavilions is a unique feature. It was one of the largest and the most sumptuous structures of its type. It became silted up and much of it is not visible now, except for some rows of sculptured panels in the circular part of the well. Among its ruins one pillar still stands which is the proof not only of the elegance of its design, but also excellent example of this period. A part only of the west well is extant from which it appears that the wall had been built of brick and faced with stone. From this wall project vertical bracket in pairs, this supported the different galleries of the well shaft proper. This bracketing is arranged in tiers and is richly carved. The minute and exquisite carving of this 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.
There is also a small Gate below the last step of the step well which has a 30 kilometre tunnel built (Now it has been blocked by stones and mud) which leads to the town of Sidhpur near Patan. It was used as an escape gateway for king who built the step well in the times of defeat.