The small town, Patan in the state of Gujrat, is famous for Rani- ki-Vav (queen’s stepwell). It is not only a prominent historic site of India but it is also included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the most ornamented stepwell in India, Hence it is the queen of stepwells in India.
How it was explored
The vav was constructed centuries ago, but with due course of time was forgotten somewhere in the pages of history, due to no maintenance for centuries and floods in river Saraswati (flowing nearby), it was brutally damaged. The site was re-discovered in the 1960s by the efforts of ASI. Later in 2014, it was also included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Patan served as the capital of the region for about 650 years during the rule of the Solanki dynasty. The vav was constructed during that era somewhere in 11 century. It was constructed by Rani Udayanati in honour of her King Bhimdev I. It was decorated in the best possible way, well-decorated walls, pillars and well-desigined steps, showcases the architectural skills of that era.
As the name depicts Step-Well is actually a well with steps that leads to the bottom of the well, these are mostly found in Rajasthan and Gujrat region in India. This is one of the well constructed and decorated with sculptures all around the walls and pillars.
It is not only about the design but the size of this structure is also elephantic. It is a multistoried structure buried completely under the earth, the gigantic structure is 64 Mtr long, 20 Mtr wide and 27 Mtrs deep, constructed in east-west direction with well in the extreme west of the structure. The stairs start from the easternmost side of the complex and lead to the bottom-most point of the well. It is the word of the mouth that around 50 years back the step-well contained medicinal plants and the water stored was used to cure viral fever and other ailments.
Located near river Sarswati, this step-well has a unique water resource and storage system, with a huge tank constructed at the bottom of the vav to store water. It has been constructed in Muru- Gurjara style of architecture. About 500 Sculptures have been carved all across the well, which includes the sculptures of Goddess Parvati, Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Lord Ganesha, Sun God, Kuber and many more, in addition to this female figures of an apsara, geometrical designs, etc have been encarved.
Patan is about 130 km from Ahmedabad, took about 3.5 Hrs to reach the destination. During this trip, I first visited Sun Temple, Modhera and then moved ahead to Patan. As the distance is not much and the roads are in good condition. Hence, I decided to go for a bike ride, I rented a Hero Splender and started my trip next day by 8:00 AM, It took me about 2.5 Hrs to reach Modera and another 45 min. to reach the final destination of the day. When I reached near Patan, the boards of Gujrat Tourism, escorted me to the vav. They were written in Gujarati but the logo of Gujrat Tourism was there.
The vav is completely buried under the earth, you can’t identify the structure unless you stand next to the vav. When I was about to enter the vav, I saw a jaw dropping structure with hundreds of stairs with decorated walls and pillars. Stairs are well planned, after some there is a space covered with a ceiling supported by multiple pillars. When I entered the well and started moving towards the bottom, it seemed as if I had entered a different world, as you go down and down one is thrilled with its beauty. It is a multilevel structure with a tank at the bottom. The last set/ pair of stairs lead to the lowest point of the well, this point gives you the complete view of the Vav, the interior of the well is magnificently decorated with the sculptures of various Hindu Gods and Goddesses, apsaras and many more, about 500 sculptures have been encarved in vav.
How to reach:- By road:- It is a one day tour to Modhera and Patan with base camp at Ahmedabad. The route plan for the tour can be opted as Ahmedabad to Mehsana to Modhera to Patan. It is a ride of about 130 kms from Ahmedabad (about 3-3.5 Hrs.), On the way back from Patan you can skip Modhera and directly reach Mehsana. Bus service and taxi service are also available. The roads are in good condition and it is safe for bike riding also.
Places to visit in Patan:- Sahastra Ling Lake, Patan.
Palaces to visit outside city or nearby:- Sun Temple, Modhera is about 33 Kms, on the way back on the outskirts of Ahmedabad Adalaj step-well can also be visited.
Minimum Duration of visit:- It will take about 2 to 2.5 Hrs to reach the place, 2.5 Hr to visit the Temple complex and relax.