Queen's step well : Rani ni Vav
It's not a temple but it is not less than a temple ! When a queen decides to built a step well for it must be extraordinary. Yes, Indeed it is! Nowhere in the world you will see such beautifully sculpture laden wells like India. The culture of preserving water has deeply rooted in the Indian mind until colonization took place. It is a part of every village culture. Here the patron of this well took it way further than just to create a place to fetch water from.
This beautiful step well is in the Northern border of Gujarat state in a town called Patan. The history says Queen Udayamati built in memory of her late husband King Bhima in 11th century. That is close to 1000 yrs. This is a huge step well around seven level deep created in Maru - Gurjara style.
Most of the sculptures are dedicated to Bhagwan Vishnu and his avataras ( incarnations ) and other statues as well. The best time to see the step well is either early morning or evening. Avoid going in the noon when light is harsher and creates dark shadows or bright exposed parts.
Also beautiful sculptures like this require right time & attention to get good pictures. We spent more than an hour here. Still we wanted to explore it more but it was time to return back home.
This sculpture of Mahishasur Mardini is really intricate. Even two beautiful ladies stands in most lyrical pose. Like in any Indian temple system most of the sculptures tells some story. One needs to observe them intently. Jewellery carved on their body, weapons in her hands and animals makes it very interesting. This also shows the fashion unique to India.
The picture of the design patters on the wall can be seen in Patola sarees. These saree belongs to Patan town where this step well is based.
At the end of visit we felt overwhelmed by experiencing larger than life work done by our ancestors. Really this is what we humans are made to create beauty and celebrate it on earth!
How to reach ?
It is in between Ahmedabad - Udaipur road OR Ahmedabad - Jaisalmer route.
The distance is around 125kms Ahmedabad , Udaipur 261kms and Jaisalmer 434 kms from all of these cities. Patan is a small town yet you can get good hotels to relax and eat. Best way is to stay here and visit the step well early morning.
We did a long drive from Jaisalmer to Patan while returning back to Mumbai. Roads are very good. But at the Gujrat - Rajasthan border you may see lot of trucks. So if you are leaving from Jaisalmer head out early morning. The stepwell is protected and well maintained site by the A.S.I.