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India's Newest World Heritage Site : Rani Ki Vav

By Anusha

Rani Ki Vav is a beautiful example of engineering and architecture from the Solanki dynasty period. Built by the Queen Udyamati, Rani Ki Vav is located in Patan on the erstwhile banks of river Saraswati. It was intended as a memorial to her late husband King Bhimdev I. This unique stepwell is a rather recent discovery, only excavated in the late 1980s after being hidden for centuries under layers of silt. Here are some lovely images of Rani Ki Vav.

Awe Inspiring Architecture

Awe Inspiring Architecture

This inverted temple structure, paying homage to the element water, was originally divided into seven storeys, of which only five remain today. The terraces have pillared pavilions showcasing intricate sculptures of the various Avatar's of Lord Vishnu, sadhus, kings and dancing Apsaras. The images of dancing Apsaras at Rani Ki Vav demonstrate the different stages of make-up, known as 'Solah Shringar'.

Photo Courtesy: Sudhamshu Hebbar

Intricate Sculptures

Intricate Sculptures

The rectangular complex, houses over 1500 sculptures of main deities as well as religious motifs and intricately designed geometric patterns. The stepwell built in the 11th century AD is proof of the quality of workmanship, having withstood the passage of time fraught with natural calamities and wars.

Photo Courtesy: Steph Carlisle

World Heritage Site

World Heritage Site

Besides being nominated for the World UNESCO Heritage Site in February 2013, the monument has also been visited in the past by other foreign delegates. The Scottish Ten team along with Archaelogical Survey of India(ASI), digitally documented the monument and its many well-preserved sculptures. The data is currently being used for conservation programmes and heritage management at Rani Ki Vav. Today it is the 31st UNESCO World Heritage Site in India.

Photo Courtesy: Bernard Gagnon

Avatars of Lord Vishnu

Avatars of Lord Vishnu

Here are some images taken at Rani Ki Vav, depicting a few of the 10 avatars of Lord Vishnu. With its many sculptures of Lord Vishnu, the stepwell has significance as a holy place. A conglomeration of art, history and spiritual elements, makes Rani Ki Vav a must-see for all.

Photo Courtesy: Sudhamshu Hebbar

The Adi Varaha Avatar

The Adi Varaha Avatar

The third avatar of Lord Vishnu is depicted as a boar. As per literary references, Varaha Avatar rescued Bhumidevi (earth) from under water after defeating Hiranyakasyap. Bhumidevi was said to be so happy on being rescued that she married Adi Varaha.

Photo Courtesy: Sudhamshu Hebbar

Vamana Avatar of Lord Vishnu

Vamana Avatar of Lord Vishnu

Described in the Puranas as the fifth avatar of Lord Vishnu, Vamana avatar is depicted as a dwarf Brahmin priest. The story involving Kerala's benevolent King Mahabali goes that the Brahmin priest asked for three-steps of land. When King Mahabali accepted, the Brahmin avatar of Lord Vishnu grew so big in size that he covered earth and heaven in two steps and for the third, King Mahabali offered his own head.

Photo Courtesy: Sudhamshu Hebbar

Kalki Avatar

Kalki Avatar

Kalki is the last of the 10 Lord Vishnu avatars and is expected to be incarnated at the end of Kali Yug. He is depicted as riding a horse and carrying a blazing sword.

Photo Courtesy: Sudhamshu Hebbar

Conservation Efforts

Conservation Efforts

Until 2001, visitors were allowed to walk till the end of the stairwell. But after the Bhuj earthquake, the stability of various parts were compromised. Today, certain sections are closed to public viewing. The ASI is working on conserving the stepwell against further damage. Efforts to recover other lost sections of palaces and temples in the vicinity is also underway.

Photo Courtesy: Steph Carlisle

How to Reach Rani Ki Vav

How to Reach Rani Ki Vav

By Road: Intercity buses are available from Ahmedabad to Patan (3.5 hr) and from Mehsana (1 hr). Taxi jeeps on sharing basis are also available.

By Rail: The nearest railway station is Mehsana, after which you will need to proceed by road.

By Air: The nearest airport is Ahmedabad.

Photo Courtesy: Steph Carlisle

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