Recently, I went to Palanpur in Northern Gujarat for some official work. After taking help from Google Baba, I zeroed upon Patan & Modhera as sightseeing options if there was any free time available. Luckily our task was finished earlier than we expected. I requested our driver Rahimbhai to take a side trip to Patan while returning back to Ahmedabad. Initially he was reluctant. His view was that there was nothing much in Patan except a well.
We left State Highway no 41 & turned towards Patan. The road condition was excellent with numerous villages around. After 15-16 km we entered in Patan. Though it’s a district place it bears the look of an ancient town with many old buildings, remains of old structures & narrow lanes. As we started asking for directions to Rani ki Vav, the locals started giving us confusing directions for the site. This created doubt in my mind whether the efforts to reach this place were worth or not. At last after criss-crossing many narrow streets & narrower lanes we reached at Rani Ki Vav (The Queen’s Stepwell).
At last we reached the stepwell & the hidden gem called Rani Ni Vav was in our sight. Calling this grand monument as a well is like calling Taj Mahal as a humble tomb. Standing at the top, I was trying to accommodate this grand structure in single frame of my eyes. It had numerous steps, columns & sculptures. It seemed that the steps were going to the centre of the earth. We started walking down on the steps. It’s said that this stepwell was built by Queen Udaymati in memory of King Bhimdev-I.
This grand stepwell is of dimensions approximately 64 m long, 20 m wide & 27 m deep. The architecture is one of the finest with Maru-Gurjar style. The sculptures carved are so minute & exquisite that this stepwell is rightly called as the Queen of the Stepwells of India. The sculptures vary from Apsaras, Vishnu, Rama, Brahmans, Kalki etc. They are approximately 800 in numbers.
As per Archaeological Survey of India, this beautiful monument was flooded & silted over the centuries by Saraswati River. It remained hidden underground until 1980s.This site was then excavated by ASI & restored to its past glory. In June 2014, it was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
In the past these stepwells were the centres of social activities like religious ceremonies. It is also told that there is a secret way beneath the stepwell which leads to a nearby village. This secret underground path was planned for an emergency escape for the royal family in case of an enemy attack.
As the daylight was fading, we decided to go on top of the well shaft from the opposite side. The structure looked more beautiful in the golden sunlight of evening. I took few more photos & we decided to return Ahmedabad keeping Modhera for our future visits.