Adalaj Rd, Adalaj, Gujarat 382421.
All year daily 8-18.
|Adalaj Stepwell, Adalaj Rd, Adalaj, Gujarat 382421, Tel: +91-97271-99922, Cell: +91-79-2397-7200,
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|built by Mahmud Begada to commemorate Queen Rudabai, wife of Veersinh, the Vaghela chieftain.
|construction of well started.
અડાલજની વાવ (Adalaj Waw, Adalaj Stepwell) is one of the biggest and most beautiful stepwells in India. It was built to hold water, but also to provide refuge to travelers and local people, and offer spiritual sustenance.
Hindu King Rana Veer Singh started the construction of the Adalaj Ni Vav to provide relief to his people in this arid region.
At this time the people had to walk miles for water.
It was built in Solanki style and adorned with Hindu and Jain images.
But King Rana Veer Singh was killed in battle in a war with neighboring Muslim King Mehmud Begada. King Mehmud Begada fell in love with his widow, the beautiful Queen Roopba (aka Queen Rudabai). Queen Roopba agreed to marry King Mehmud Begada under the condition that he finishes the stepwell her husband had started. He agreed, which is why the stepwell design also shows Islamic influences.
When it was finished, Queen Roopba threw herself in to the well, and died. Apparently, she had no intention of marrying King Mehmud Begada. She just wanted to see her husband’s stepwell finished. Fortunately, King Mehmud Begada did not destroy the structure or the Hindu ornamentation, and it remains intact more than 500 years later.
This well is of the type which has an abundance of architectural elements. There are pillars supporting balconies, the pillars and walls are covered with sculptures. The whole structure was built into the well, but looks more like a palace or temple than a stepwell. The carvings, sculptures, and ornamentation, combining Indian and Islamic architectural elements and designs. Islamic floral patterns and Hindu and Jain symbolism blend seamlessly. This Indo-Islamic fusion architecture was actually quite common at this time.
There are three sets of entrance stairs which meet on the first level down at an underground platform with an octagonal opening on top. The large square platform leads to a rectangular ditch extending north to the actual well. Into this ditch five levels of pillars, capitals and floors were built. The series of empty rooms, flights of beautiful architecture without any purpose makes this site both impressive and somewhat unreal. It's not very well suited as a temple, and the best way to put it is probably, the room is a sort of museum for the ornamental carvings with mythological and village scenes. There are Ami khumbor, a pot which contains the water of life, and the Kalp vriksha, the tree of life. Most are carved from a single slab of stone. The small frieze of Navagraha (nine-planets) - we are not sure if this includes Pluto - is said to protect the monument from bad luck.
However, several parts are not accessible, as there are huge holes in the floor, and there are no railings, so be cautious. We guess all the architecture is at the end intended to allow light and air to enter the octagonal well, but no direct sunlight touches the steps. As a result, the whole structure is not only shady but also 6° C cooler than outside. Another mystified nonsense, as any underground structure has a constant temperature which is the long time average temperature of outside.
And like most stepwells, it has differing theories how and when it was built. The above tragic legend is dated to around 1411. An inscription in Sanskrit found on a marble slab positioned in a recess on the first floor, tells a different story. It says the construction started in 1498, others stae it was 1499.