Adalaj ni Vav Ahmedabad or Adalaj stepwell was the first place we visited after landing in Ahmedabad the previous evening. We were staying in a Heritage house in old town and were advised to hire an auto to take us places to see in Ahmedabad.
I had heard about its magnificent carving but did not know it has a very interesting story behind it as well!
My instant reaction on seeing it was a “Wow” instead of Vav. 🙂
Adalaj stepwell or ‘Vav‘ or or ‘Vaav’ as it is locally called, is a five-storied beautifully chiseled step well in a small sleepy village Adalaj, about 18 km from Ahmedabad. It is intricately carved and is a fine example of magnificent architectural form. The designs as leaves, flowers, birds, fish, women performing daily chores, scenes of court and kings and other breathtaking ornamental designs on its walls and pillars have made Adalaj Vav a popular tourist attraction of the city.
Oh! I would have loved to be a traveller in that era!
Built in 1499 it was to not only conserve water but was also a place where one could rest during hot summer months due to its cool chambers. In the olden days, these step wells used to be frequented by travellers and caravans as stopovers along their trade routes. It was also a congregation place for locals and a meeting place for women where they would collect water, share their everyday stories, and worship the deities placed in small temples along the well.
The structure is primarily built of stone and brick and mortar is used for the inner parts. The bottom of the well is a square stepped floor which opens in the sky above and is supported by a maze of pillars and arches. The underground part at the bottom is like a palace in itself, with a distinct touch of Islamic architecture. Influence of Buddhists, Jains rulers of Gujarat can also be seen.
Sunlight doesn’t reach directly into the well but openings in the ceiling enable light and air to enter inside. This keeps the water inside the well cool even in summer.
Legend behind Adalaj Vav
The construction of this well was started by the local Hindu ruler of the area, Rana Veer Singh of the Vaghela Dynasty for his wife Rani Rudabai. Mohammed Begda, a Muslim ruler of a neighboring state, invaded Adalaj and killed Rana Veer Singh. Begda was attracted by the beauty of the widow of Rana, and proposed her to marry him. However the queen put forth a condition to get the five-storeyed step-well completed before she considered his proposal. King Begda finished the step-well in record time in the hope to marry Rani Rudabai. The next day Rani Rudabai visited the step-well, said her final prayer and jumped into the well and died.
And so, the well has also become a memorial of the love of the queen for her husband.
Ahmedabad is just 1/2 hour drive to Adalaj.
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