Sightsee The Marvellous Stepwells Of Gujarat
Gujarat is one of the most illustrious states in India with so many hidden treasures and ancient places to visit. Gujarat Tourism has many features in its cap. Starting from the longest beach in India, Asia’s only lion sanctuary, the white desert of Kutch, the world’s tallest statue of “Statue of Liberty” and many more. Also, there are marvelous architectural beauties from the Moghul era to explore in India’s first and only UNESCO the World Heritage City of Ahmedabad with mouth-watering dishes to tickle your taste buds from Surat. Gujarat is a perfect holiday destination to explore for many reasons.
One such exclusive and explicit feature of Gujarat heritage and architectural marvel is ancient stepwell. It stands for a sublime testament to Gujarat’s erstwhile era. Stepwell in Gujarat is a water reservoir built for a local region which has its traced found from the era of Indus Valley Civilization. This famous architecture of Step Well or VAV as known in the local Gujarati language is an underground well architecture with an open and long stepped corridor that leads to the bottom of the well through steps. It was designed to reach the level of water through steps down. The well was typically designed with an L shape so water can be found fresh and cool naturally throughout the year. Also, the well has another use especially in the summer period of Gujarat as a naturally cooled shelter for royal families. Most of the step wells in Gujarat are made from bricks, sandstone and limestones, another reason to keep the surrounding cool in hot summer. Some of the famous stepwells of Gujarat are listed below with detailed information.
Rani Ki Vav: This glorious and most admired stepwell of Gujarat is located at Patan, a place also known for its Patola saree. Rani Ki Vav is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Great queen of Solanki Dynasty, Queen Udaymati’s name makes this vav famous as Rani Ki Vav. She built this mammonth and memorial structure in memories of her husband King Bhimadeva during the 11th century. The structural design of the well is based on the Hindu mythology belief of Dashavatar, the 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
Navghan Kuvo & Adi Kadi Vav of Junagadh: The structure of these two Vav in Junagadh is a little different than the Rani Ki Vav, it is not excavated but cut out from the single rock. It is believed that this Adi Kadi Vav was built in 15th century, while Navghan Kuvo was in around 1026 AD.
Adalaj Ni Vav: Located at Gandhinagar, this might be the most visited stepwell in Gujarat. Throughout the year, this vav is filled with local and visiting tourists around the state or from the other part of the country as well. Also, Adalaj Ni Vav is one of the favorite destinations for photoshoots related to prewedding and fashion. This stepwell is five stories deep and it was constructed by Queen Rudabai, a wife of Veersinh Vaghela. It was built around 15th century. The most beautiful thing to observe here is the floral carvings and special stories crafted on the walls of the stepwell.
Modhera Sun Temple Step well: Surya Kund Stepwell, located at Modhera is a 2 hours drive away destination from Ahmedabad. This stepwell is around 1000 years old structure has 108 temples built inside the stepwell. Surya Kund Stepwell at Modhera is built on the bank of the river Pushpavati. It was built by great King Bhima of Chaulukya dynasty during 11th century.
Dada Hari Ni Vav, Ahmedabad: Built by Sultan Mahmud Begada, also known as Mahmud Shah I is a five stories vav known for its carvings. It is located just beside the tomb of Dada Hari was built in the year of 1499 AD by the Sultan’s harem supervisor is of 60 kms away from the city of Ahmedabad. The most interesting part of this stepwell in Gujarat is that it has two diversified carvings, one in Sanskrit and another in Persian, giving it the finest combination of sculpture of Muslim Traditions with Hindu Culture. It has a beautiful spiral stairway that takes visitors to each storey.
Navlakhi Vav: Located at the palace compound of Lakshmi Vilas Palace, this vav might be the only remnant of Gurjar dynasty in Baroda. It was built during the period of Sultan Muzzafar Shah, around 15th century. It is more than 600 years old structure with demonstrated galleries. Based on its name, there is a belief that Nine Lakh gold coins were spent to construct this stepwell. Earlier it was the only source of water to Lakshmi Vilas Palace throughout the year and currently hosts a beautiful golf course near it. It is also believed that during the wartime and when external force attacks the palace, this stepwell of Gujarat was the place for the army to hide and led defense against attackers.
Wankaner Palace Stepwell: This might be the best-preserved stepwell in Gujarat amongst all. This is because the Wankaner Palace is now converted into a heritage stay and this stepwell is one of the attractions for visitors. Done by the Royal Oasis of Wankaner, this stepwell is not only preserved to it’s best condition but also restored to its original glory and marveled.
Ramakund Stepwell: Located at the destination of Bhuj, Kutch is famous for many of it’s ancient attractions. Ramakund stepwell speaks about it’s existence during the time of Ramayana & Mahabharat. The stepwell is surrounded by the sculptures and idols of Lord Ram, Deity Lakshmi, Lord Hanuman, Lord Hanuman and more. Also you can see the sculptures of 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu spread across the stepwell.
Geban Shsh’s Vav: The world heritage site of Champaner is the home of this stepwell of Gujarat. It shows the beautiful and balanced cultural architecture of both Hindu and Islamic scripture.
There are dozens of other step-wells in Gujarat like Bhammariyo Kuvo at Mahemdavad, Ganga Stepwell at Wadhwan, Madhav Vav at Surendranagar, Ra Khengar Stepwell near Vanthali, Chamukhi Stepwell in Chobari; Surendranagar, Amritavarshini Vav, Jethabhai Ni Vav, and Mata Bhavani Vav at Ahmedabad, Helical Stepwell at Champaner and many more. Some of them are very famous and visited by thousands of people every year while others are so obscure that only the locals know much about its history and diversity. Typically there are around 100 stepwells in Gujarat, known & unknown, small & big, maintained & ruined. it is a subterranean water harvesting system that most of the locations have developed to store rainwater for the typically dried terrain of Gujarat. It is also a naturally cooled place to rest for locals and royals.
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