Patan, Samalpati, Gujarat 384265.
All year daily 6-18.
Foreigners INR 550, BIMSTEC and SAARC Nationals INR 35, Children (0-15) free.
|Mohan Nagar Society, Patan, Samalpati, Gujarat 384265, Tel: +91-1800-203-1111.
|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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|After the death of Chaulukya King Bhima I, his widow Udaymati and his son Karna built this stepwell as a memorial for the late king.
|well filled with sediments due to a flood and abandoned.
|restored by the Archaeological Survey of India.
|protected as a national monument by the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites Act.
|inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
રાણકી વાવ (Rani Ki Vav, Queen's Stepwell) is located in the town of Patan in Gujarat state of India. It is located in the northwest outskirts.
In 1064, after the death of Chaulukya King Bhima I, his widow Udaymati and his son Karna built this stepwell as a memorial for the late king. That's the reason why it was named The Queen's Stepwell. Some parts of the temple were created by cutting and sculpting the existing rock, but there are also walls and other parts which were placed here. So this is only partly monolithic, which means it is not monolithic at all. The architectural style is called Maru-Gurjara and this stepwell was built at the height of the craftsmens’ ability reflecting mastery of this complex technique.
Right north of the well, the river Saraswati runs west to east, but it is dry most of the year. It seems there was a connection which made this stepwell an actual well, a connection to the groundwater. This ended in the 13th century, due to tectonic movements, the Saraswati River bed moved and the well did not produce water any more. The site was also flooded and filled in with river sediments. As a result, it was not only forgotten, it was also preserved with all the sculptures for over seven centuries. The site was rediscovered in the 1940s and restored in the 1980s by the Archaeological Survey of India. What they found was so spectacular, the site was even listed on the UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2014.
The stepwell is oriented east-west, the entrance is on the eastern end, the staircase leads down until it reaches the circular well shaft on the western end. A rectangular tank 9.5 m by 9.4 m is located at the western end, at a depth of 23 m. It is on the bottom of a shaft with a diameter of 10 m and a depth of 30 m. The side walls also form steps, not for walking, but for separating the seven levels of sculptural panels. The walls are covered with sculptures of high artistic quality. There are more than 500 principal sculptures and over a thousand minor ones. The imagery combines religious, mythological and secular topics. Some scenes are references to literary works. The rectangular ditch is separated into a first staircase and three rectangular courtyards separated by four pavilions with an increasing number of storeys towards the west.
The site is very well-preserved with all its key architectural components, and its original form and design can still be easily recognized. However, some pavilion storeys are missing. The majority of sculptures and decorative panels remain in-situ. However, it does not work as a source any more, as the groundwater level lowered as a result of the relocation of Saraswati River.
The site is managed by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). There is a Superintending Archaeologist with an in-house team of ASI archaeologists working and monitoring on site. The main problems for the site are erosion, as it is now again uncovered and subject to weathering, and the fact that it is located in an earthquake prone area. The UNESCO reports the lack of educational signs on site for the visitors, and a holistic concept for tourism and for natural disasters. But that was 10 years ago when the site was inscribed. Hopefully the site is now better developed.