Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rani ki Vav Stepwell

Located 140 km (87 miles) from Ahmedabad is the famous stepwell of Rani ki Vav. Meaning “The Queen’s Stepwell,” it was at one time one of the largest and grandest of Gujarat’s stepwells. Built by Queen Udaymati as a memorial to her husband around 1026 AD, the stepwell is approximately 64 m long, 20 m wide, and 27 m deep (210 x 66 x 89 ft). Although the well has been damaged due to being silted up and only excavated after being re-discovered around 1958, one still can appreciate its excellent carvings – over 800 individual sculptures, mostly of Hindu deities. Totaling seven colonnaded floors, the stepwell has a lateral series of steps leading to what was the water’s edge. Just below the last step was a 30 km tunnel built for the king as an escape getaway in times of conflict, now blocked by stones and mud. Now on the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list, the Rani ki Vav, once a refreshing spot enjoyed by travelers along the Silk Route, is now a significant tourist destination.

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