Adalaj is a sleepy town on the outskirts of Gandhinagar. A stepwell known as Adalaj ni Vav has put up this place on tourism map. It’s an integral part of Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar tourism circuit. This is an excellent example of Hindu Islamic architecture in Solanki style.
After landing in Ahmedabad, we reachedAdalaj in less than half an hour. At first impression, I was not convinced that the very popular tourist attraction is located in this town. No sign of it in sight even when I reached the place. As we walked down the steps, the hidden picture started unfolding. We landed in a square block which had steps coming from three directions.
One of the three entrances
It is a unique design in itself. The fourth direction is having the steps leading downwards to the actual well. As we descended by these steps, a journey towards an exhibition of art & sculpture started.
The legend of the vav goes back to 15th Century. It is said that the Hindu water building was built by a Muslim Sultan for a Hindu Queen named Rudabai. This justifies the combination of Hindu Islamic architecture. In those days such vavs & stepwells were often built on trade routes of caravans travelling in this part of Asia. These were the centres of cultural & religious festivals.
Corridors & carved pillars
The architectural plan is such that the interior of the structure is cooler than the outside by at least 5 to 7 degrees even during the harsh summers. This feature made it an ideal place for the womenfolk to gather there for their work & spent hours chatting about life, children, families. One can imagine the glory of this place in those days.
The structure is five storied with the main well having an octagonal shape. It isbuilt in sandstone which was abundantly available in that region. There are small balconies like structures once we start going towards the actual well. These balconies are a treat to eyes carved with detailed accuracy.
One of the four small rooms at the landing level
The wholestepwell is designed with numerous beautifully carved pillars. It’s having the provision of good light & ventilation through openings kept at different levels. There are various carvings on the walls such as elephants, Hindu & Jain Gods, women doing their daily activities.
Carving in the well
The Islamic influence like flowers can be attributed to the Muslim Sultan who completed the construction of this vav. In a way this stepwell is a very good example of religious harmony in India.
Looking up the top
The top of the actual well shaft is circular & open to sky. Unfortunately the top is now covered with grills decreasing the aesthetic look of the well. The beauty of the well shaft can be seen from the bottom with many exquisitely carved beams, walls. It’s another visual treat to your thirsty eyes. Looking at the top you can imagine the sounds of anklets, bangles, laughter & voices of the women folks of the bygone era. The walls of this well must have been witness to many such gossips & legends.
Symbolic pot of the water of life