Does this word ring any bell? Do you think this place is important? Most of the Indians (foreigners are a different story altogether) do not know about this town or why it is so important. We, Indians are bad at maintaining our history, monuments, and other important pieces. That’s what I used to think before I visited Patan though!
I am going to talk about Patan in this blog post because I need to do everything in my power to let people know about this place & encourage them to travel here.
We visit so many places in the world that fall under UNESCO World Heritage sites. Hell, we also gloat about visiting that once we come to know about that. Guess what? Patan’s Sun Temple is one of the best preserved UNESCO World Heritage sites of India. It might be falling under least visited UNESCO World Heritage sites list as well because when I was there, I saw hardly 10 people around.
Rani Ki Vav, Patan
- How to reach: Patan is about 125 km (2.5 – 3 hours) away from Ahmedabad. You can reach Patan by road.
- Entry fee: Rs. 15 – Indians | Rs. 200 – Non-Indians
- What to see: Rani ki vav | Queen’s Stepwell
Rani Ki vav was built about 985 years ago! The construction went on for 36 years (FYI: Taj Mahal was built in about 22 years). It is said that Rani Ki Vav was constructed in the memory of King Bhimdev by his wife Queen Udayamati. What makes it unique though?
1. The sheer size of the structure
I can give you numbers from Wikipedia on how big Rani Ki Vav is but that’s not going to make you go woah! Even pictures won’t make you wonder about its size. The only way to be in its awe is by visiting Rani Ki Vav in real life.
From the ground level, this stepwell is roughly 90 feet deep! That’s about 7 stories in the reverse direction. It makes you wonder how they built it 985 years ago with few tools.
2. Intricate carvings
This is the best thing ever. THE BEST! I have seen carvings in caves of Ajanta & Ellora but they are not in good shape compared to Rani Ki Vav. Every single pillar & wall is carved so well that you can just imagine these geniuses working here 985 years ago.
The sad part, however, is that some of the carvings have been damaged by the 2001 Earthquake & some by the stupid human beings writing their names on it. The good thing is that unless you have a special permission from the Archaeological Survey of India, you can’t go to the more sensitive part of this structure.
3. Architectural genius
Now all the things that I’m going to write below have been told to me by this wonderful Guide (ASI Approved) Mr. Bhupendra Solanki (+91-9924433729).
#1. The well was built with few flat places in between steps so that people can rest while walking up or getting down. Travellers also used this space to rest for a night. There was a place to do bonfire as well which kept wild animals away from the Vav at night.
#2. The steps were designed like an illusion. People going up or down couldn’t see how many steps they got to climb or get down. These way, there was no fear of heights, no mental tiredness & lesser chances of someone falling down.
#3. Every carving had some religious importance. Walls were filled with statues of Hindu deities. It prevented other kings from destroying it (Because everyone in those years were following Hinduism). It also got more & more people to use the Stepwell because of the spiritual & religious atmosphere.
#4. The entire structure is not a single piece. It is made of many pieces interlocked, which made it possible to replace damaged pieces easily.
#5. There were (or are) a lot of medicinal plants around the Vav & even inside it, that it used to cure many diseases of that time.
So there you go, it was used as necessity, socialising, night stays, spiritualism, medicinal purpose, and many more things that we probably don’t even know about.
4. Spectacular side walls filled with statues of gods & stories
I wanted to click pictures of each & every statue. Every single one of them looked so pretty that there was not one favourite, all of them were favourites. It enacts a lot of themes of Hinduism & you might find many stories of gods if you can figure out.
5. Well-maintained UNESCO World Heritage Site in India
India is known as a country which can’t maintain its monuments well. Most of us are also least bothered about maintaining the sanctity of the place. We are more about taking pictures, selfies, or leaving our mark on the history of India (by literally putting our names on it).
Rani Ki Vav is a little different. The surrounding is well-maintained. There’s a beautiful garden around the Stepwell. The area till the structure is disabled-friendly. Ticket prices are very nominal. And of course, the guides are very knowledgeable & helpful.
In the end, I’d say only this – Visit the unexplored places of India. Don’t read the history, live it!
Pictures: Parichay Mehta