The Adalaj Stepwell or ‘vav‘ in the Adalaj village near Gandhinagar, Gujarat, is an architectural marvel as much as is the legendary story attached to it. Started by Rana Veer Singh of the Vaghela Dynasty in 1498 and completed by Muslim ruler Mehmud Begada, this structure is a fine example of Indo Islamic architecture and Saga of the dignity possessed by the queen of the era.
The vav (stepwell or also known as Baoli in Rajasthan) is said to have served as a common place for socialising among people for many ages . Womenfolk from neighbouring villages socialised here and even worshipped the Hindu deities sculpted on the walls. Also it served as a resting place for the travellers along the route as the temperature inside the structure is said to be almost five degrees less than outside.
The different floors of the vav with large openings
A view of the ‘Vav’
The Interesting Tale ………..
Rani Rudabai , the queen of Rana Veer Singh was tormented by the Muslim invader after he defeated And killed Rana Veer singh in a battle and captured his territory. The Muslim King was encapsulated by the beauty of the queen and wanted to marry her and forcefully restrained her from performing The ritual of Sati. The queen in order to preserve her honour and fulfill the desire of her husband of completing the construction of the vav, which would save her people from the misery of shortage of water , designed a well thought of plan. She agreed to the Muslim king’s demand of marrying him on the condition that he would complete the construction of the vav before their marriage.
The king who was in awe of her beauty agreed to the bet and completed the construction well in time . Rani Rudabai who had achieved her objective, now decided to end her life by jumping into the stepwell. Before jumping she asked holy saints to bathe in the water so that the water turned holy and circumferenced the structure and jumped into it. She became a legend of grace and dignity, for the people of that era, who defended her honour against a Muslim invader & sacrificed her life as a mark of devotion to her husband. The people narrated her story for ages to come and the well also started to be known as Rudabai stepwell.
The stepwell is a five storey deep structure with an octagonal plan, magnificently carved at each floor with enough space to congregate many people. The structure stands on intricately carved stone pillars. The base of the well is in the form of a square platform out of which a circular well is chiseled and starting from here stairs in a spiral path continue on each floor with larger openings forming balconies around. The structure is an exemplary example of the blend of Hindu and Islamic architecture.
The traditional Indian Jharokhas can be seen with motifs of flowers and leaves depicting the graphic Islamic influence.
The splendid motif with elaborate carving
The intricate carving at the entrance doorway
One of the doorways in the vav
The ‘ vav‘ or the stepwell is a rich historical monument which is thronged by tourists from all over the world . It’s marvellous architecture and tragic story behind it attracts tourists all through the year, although, it is recommended to visit it during the water festival of Ahmedabad in winters to elevate the experience.
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