5 things you need to know about Rani-ki-vav, a Heritage site in Gujarat

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Present day Rani-ki-vav

Rani-ki-vav is a beautifully constructed architectural gem. Hence we can surely say that this World heritage site is nothing less than a stunning masterpiece. Situated in the town of Patan in Gujarat, this structure was built as a memorial. This structure contains a strangely exotic inverted temple along with seven levels of stairs. These stairs house more than 500 intricate sculptures. A marvelous sight to look at, Rani-ki-vav is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful heritage sites in northern India.



Architectural Style of Rani-ki-vav

Dwelling on the banks of the river Saraswati, this beauty was built in the Maru-Gurjara architectural style. Rani ki vav literally translates to ‘the queen’s step well’. Step wells were an innovative measure adopted since the 3rd millennium BC. These were structures mainly constructed for the storage of water. Over the time, from mere pits in the sand, these structures have beautifully evolved into complex architectural wonders. A true reflection of mastery of design, Rani-ki-vav is one out of thousands of pre-historic structural beauties scattered all over India.

History of Rani-ki-vav

It is believed that this structure was made by Queen Udayamati in loving memory of her husband Bhimdev. Built during the reign of the Solanki dynasty, the step well was flooded by the water of the river Saraswati. Later it was excavated by the Archeological Survey of India. This structure is a very good example of subterranean water storage system during those times. The inverted temple actually pays an ode to the sanctity of water. The structure is a strong reflection of the religious, mythological, secular and literary values of that time. Rani-ki-vav  speaks volumes about the practical measures adopted for water storage as well the sheer aesthetic mastery of art.

Sidewalls of Rani-ki-vav

As it is clear that this structure was not just a means of storing water, it was also sort of an homage paid to the Gods. Religion played a huge role along with sociological factors. The intricate design of the well includes a corridor, seven layers of staircases, a temple, the water tank and the actual well towards the west end of the structure. The sidewalls are of special mention for their masterful sculptures. Moreover, although the structure no longer functions as a well, the flood that it endured actually resulted in silting. Due to this silting, Rani-ki-vav as a structure has been conserved so well for over centuries.

Accolades and recognition for Rani-ki-vav

In June 2014, Rani-ki-vav was added to the prestigious list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. In 2016, it was given the title of “Cleanest Iconic Place” in India by the Indian Sanitation Conference (INDOSAN). The Reserve bank of India announced that Rani-ki-vav will feature on the rear of the new lavender ₹100 note.

Rani-ki-vav was discovered by archeologists on in the 1980’s. It is a truly magnificent reminiscent of the glorious Indian past. As a structure for the management and storage of water along with mythical depiction of deities, it is truly one of a kind. Do visit this architectural delight when you are visiting Gujarat. It is a pride for us.

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