An architectural wonder, Adalaj Ni Vav, is a monument that can take your breath away with its sophisticated design and majestic grandeur. ‘Vav’ is the word used in Gujarati that represents a stepwell and when you say Adalaj Ni Vav it translates to Adalaj’s Stepwell. Created for quenching the thirst of people in an arid region, this stepwell, now has become one of the hottest tourist spots in Gujarat and once you see it you will stop wondering why.
Nestled near the Gandhinagar district of Gujarat, built in the memory of Rana Veer Singh, a ruler of the Vaghela Dynasty of Dandai Des by his wife Queen Rudabai, this five-story stepwell is nothing short of charm and still scintillates, despite being several centuries old. While you can read about the bewitching construction of this place on many websites, but the legends it holds that speak of responsibility, love, and deceit can be only heard from the locals.
But don’t you worry, because Ahmedabadlive will tell you about some of those prominent stories here.
Architecture and Artwork
One of the many stepwell in India, Adalaj’s Vav, offers a unique presentation of synchronization between Indo and Islamic architectural style while syncopating from the normal Dravidian Style work that you see in most of these significant buildings. The well is present at the bottom of the structure and is octagonal in shape, the access to which is provided by the first floor through three entrances. The well is dug deep because the area that it was present in seldom received rainfall, hence in order to use groundwater to replenish it, the depth of the Vav was kept high.
As said earlier, this is a five-story building with each floor equipped with windows and vents that are surrounded by beautiful artwork. Most of the walls are covered with carvings, some of which are religious while others are of women performing normal village chores. This projects the excellence of the craftsmen that worked on this building and how they were able to derive art from even the most mundane things in life, furnishing them in a refined manner on stone walls.
The top of the stepwell is open and no direct sunlight hits the steps of the Vav, till its noon, such is the marvel of this architecture. The uppermost part of the building is square in shape boosted by four stone beams. The pillars that support the whole building will sure make you appreciate not only the engravings on them but also the might with which they are holding onto the structure for decades.
Legends and History
Built in the 15th century, many say it was constructed by a Queen for her martyred King but many say otherwise. After going through some of the folktales, we were able to break down one of the most famous narratives into an interesting fable. Have a look below:
Rana Veer Singh of the Vaghela Dynasty was ruling a small part of Gujarat, known as the Dandai Des. The area, every summer used to become very dry with little to no rainfall, due to which the whole kingdom used to perish. To solve this problem and out of responsibility for his people, the king, Rana Veer Singh decided to construct a stepwell, so that water can be stored in it and used during the arid times. But before the completion of the Vav, King Rana died while fighting a battle with Mohammed Begda, who was from a neighboring kingdom and the erection of the stepwell came to a halt.
After the king’s death, Mohammed Begda took over the Dandai Des and got smitten by the beauty of Queen Rudabai, who was the wife of gone Rana Veer Singh. When Mohammed Begda proposed marriage to Rani Rudabai, she agreed but under one condition which was that Begda had to complete the construction of the stepwell. Infatuated with the queen’s radiance, Begda promised to do so.
Hence, the building of the Vav restarted again, but this time the craftsmen were from two different sects, therefore, a fusion of Indo-Islamic artwork was innovated during the construction of the Vav. Once everything was completed, Begda reminded the queen of the promise she made. Duping the love-stricken Mohammed Begda, Queen Rudabai after encompassing the Vav while reciting prayers, jumped into it, performing what some call Johar and some Sati, ending her life following the completion of what was started by her husband for the good of the people.
With this, for many years the stepwell served as a source of water for the kingdom and many of the villages surrounding it.
This is the whole story we gathered from various sources, one of them being Wikipedia. You might have seen the movies, Padamavat and Bajirao Mastani, which tell tales similar to this. We can only wait till Bollywood discovers this magnificent saga and puts it on the big screen so that everyone can know about this compelling legend.
Location and Transportation
If you are thinking about what significance does the word Adalaj has in this stepwell’s name, then Adalaj is the village where this Vav resides, located 10 km away from the Gandhinagar district and 19 km from Ahmedabad, Gujarat. You can reach this place via all types of transportation, i.e., by road, train or air.
If you want to explore the place and wish to go by air then the nearest airport to it is Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Airport in Ahmedabad, from where you can book a personal ride to the Vav.
From Ahmedabad, if you want to go by road, then many private and state buses can take you to the Gandhinagar district, from where, if you want, you can hike to the stepwell as it is just 20 minutes away from there.
Ahmedabad railway station is connected to all the major cities of India and the Gandhinagar Capital railway Station. You can take this option as well.
But no matter which mode of travel you choose, you cannot prepare yourself to take in the view and beauty of Adalaj Stepwell all at once.
Things You Should Check Out While Visiting The Stepwell
The Vav does hold a lot to see, but when you are visiting in a hurry you will not have the time to explore it all. In order to make your experience the best, we have listed out some things to do when you visit the stepwell.
The Vav has an underground story, which has slabs covered with serenading engravings, out of them, Ami Khumbor, a pot that contains the water of life, and Kalp Vriksha, a tree of life, have been carved from a single block of stone.
It is said that the temperature inside the stepwell is a lot cooler than the outside. If it is so then going down the steps and feeling it for yourself is a must-have experience.
Whether you are visiting the place to take a glimpse at what Rani Rudabai sacrificed her life for, or the astounding splendor of the construction etched on the walls of Adalaj Stepwell, whatever it might be, the place for sure will exceed your expectations, transcending you into the royal era with its artisanship and drawing you back with the coldness in its air whispering the folktales that it was built on.