Rani ni Vav is built as a tribute in honour of Bhima I ( 1022-1064 ) who is the sponsorer for constructing the Sun temple complex. It was commissioned by the widowed queen Udayamati after his death as a memorial and completed by son Karna. The landscaping and its maintainence is so wonderful that it deservingly is designated as a world heritage site on 22nd June 2014. A museum is being constructed nearby for housing all the antiques which were salvaged from the site and nearby areas.
The stepwell is built like a temple in reverse fashion. It is seven storeyed structure which gets narrower as one steps inside. The entire structure is built according to vastu plan facing east towards sunrise. The entire structure is built in a rectangular fashion with 60x20x27 meter depth.
Unfortunately the flooding of the area by saraswathi river filled the entire structure with slush and muddy waters and it was salvaged completely by ASI in the late 1960’s. Once again flooding took place when it rained torrentially in 2015. ASI was able to pump out the waters and salvage the monument without causing much damage.
There is supposed to be small tunnel for kings and royalty to escape at the end of stepwell. During time of invasion by the enemies the royalty used this tunnel to escape defeat and persecution by the enemy. The tunnel is alleged to have its opening after 30 kms in the town of Sidhpur.
Most of the sculptures are dedicated to Lord Vishnu in Dus Avatar format which include Rama, Krishna, Vamana, Narasimha, Kalki, Varaha, etc. Some of the apasaras are decked up and look attractive in their minimum attire. There are more than 500 odd sculptures or statues etched or embedded on the façade of the stepwell.
One can find statues of Buddha and other rishi munis too along with Vishnu in a sleeping posture on a serpent.
Basically VaV in gujarati means well. They were basically constructed to preserve water in a drought prone area. The place select for Rani Ni Vav seems to a rocky area leading to underground spring with river as a source of water. The seven storied structure is broader at the top with pillars holding the platform or the roof in the final 3 storeys. One storey seems to have collapsed in the flooding of the premise with only remanents of pillars left standing on the terrace. Entry to the terrace or the platform is prohibited considering the age of structure to prevent collapsing. One can view the 3 dimensional rendition of the Vav in the below furnished link.
3 D view
Rani ni Vav is the grandest monument amongst the 3000 odd stepwell constructed in Indian subcontinent from 600 AD onwards. The importance of maintaining the water bodies in order to sustain life on the planet is well portrayed. The idea of having god and goddesses around the temple premise filled with water was to help preserving the sanctity of water resource. Obviously the stepwell at Modhera is supposed to be an inspiration to construct this monument, which is much more glorified stepwell and serve as a memorial too.
Rani ka Vav is located in Patan district of Gujarat, which is 90 kms away from Ahmedabad by road. There is a railhead too located at Patan which I suspect is a meter gauge. One can conveniently cover both Modhera and Rani Ka Vav in one day trip by bus from Ahmedabad. In case of cab one can add on one or two more destinations to the round trip which may include Gandhinagar Swaminarayan temple and Sabarmati Ashram.
Grandeur of the monument would have been lost to the world but for the careful resurrection work undertaken by ASI in clearing the debris that flooded compound of the vav. My theory is that Rani Ka Vav is built like an underground temple like the Shiva temple at Hampi which too has Shiva idol immersed in water. A very important lesson to be learnt by the current generation is to preserve the water bodies as if our life depended on it. WOW ! Rani Udayamati we salute your foresight.