Rani Ki Vav: Where every step tells a story

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Ministry of Tourism, Government of India

Rani Ki Vav, or the Queen's Stepwell, is one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites that the state of Gujarat is home to.

It was constructed by Rani Udaymati in memory of her husband, King Bhima 1, of the Chalukya or Solanki dynasty, which existed between 950 and 1300 CE. Rani Ki Vav is situated on the banks of the Saraswati river.

A fine specimen of the Maru-Gurjara style of architecture, UNESCO describes the Rani-Ki-Vav as displaying the pinnacle of craftsmanship in stepwell construction. It has been designed as an inverted temple and is divided into seven levels, with sculptural panels of unmatched artistic quality.

A flight of stairs built in distinct geometrical patterns leads visitors to the Rani ki Vav. One can also see numerous stone columns at the end of the stairs.

Rani-Ki-Vav features on the new hundred rupee note issued by the Reserve Bank of India.

Out of the seven levels of Rani Ki Vav, the fourth is the deepest and leads into a rectangular tank, measuring 9.5 metres by 9.4 metres, at a depth of 23 metres.

The Rani Ki Vav stepwell is believed to have been buried underground owing to a severe flood in the Saraswati river. It was resurrected after decades of painstaking clearance and restoration by the Archaeological Survey of India from 1958 onwards.

The Rani Ki Vav World Heritage Site houses 500 principal sculptures and over a thousand minor sculptures, depicting religious, mythological and non-sacred imagery.

Most of the sculptures at Rani Ki Vav are in devotion to Lord Vishnu, in various forms like Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Lord Narsimh and Lord Vaman.

The walls of the different stories of the massive stepwell are adorned with intricately carved sculptures while the various sections of the stepwell are joined with the support of beautifully carved pillars.

The pillars at Rani ki Vav are intricately carved with imposing floral patterns and sculptures of various gods and goddesses. The upper portion of the pillars have sculptures of women carved in a manner that it appears as if their shoulders are supporting the roof.

The stepwell is divided into several floors that are supported by numerous intricately carved pillars. While the lower portion of the pillars is plain, their upper part is adorned with imposing carvings. The columns on either side of the pillared floors are decorated with mythological sculptures.

The attractive sculptures at the Rani ki Vav Stepwell are either inspired by different incarnations of Lord Vishnu, or depict Apsaras - young celestial women.

The walls of Rani Ki Vav’s vertical panels rest on the basal course at fixed intervals. The sculptures adorning the walls include those of celestial women and incarnations of Lord Vishnu.

The elaborately carved walls of the Rani Ki Vav stepwell feature sculptures of celestial women and other mythological characters like Nagakanya and Yogini. The central niches of the wall, one above the other, are adorned with sculptures that depict the Anant asayana form of Lord Vishnu among other incarnations. The walls also feature rows of female deities.

Credits: Story

Virtual Tour courtesy Archaeological Survey of India

Credits: All media
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