Gujarat Chronicles I : Adalaj ni Vav

by Purnendu Singh


Sep 5, 2011

Level One
This was my first brush with vibrant Gujarat, when I and Ekta decided to pay a visit to her mom on her 60th birthday. We took the early morning flight to Ahmadabad and reached there by 8 AM.  I must say I was impressed by the Ahmadabad airport, swanky, clean and comfortable; it could give many so called Metro airports a run for their money.
The first thing which struck me was the greenery all around. It was the peak of monsoon and Gujarat gave no hint of being a dry, almost desert like place which is the common perception. The second thing was the riot of colors people prefer to wear there, very unlike the white shirt and mundu am used to seeing in Chennai. I got an inkling that this trip was going to be fun and different.

Since we had a few hours in hand we decided to visit Adalaj ni Vav (Adalaj ni Vaav) since EKta wanted to show me the Gujarati architecture of famed step wells. We enquired with local auto drivers, and a gentleman agreed to show the place and drop us in Ahmadabad bus stand for Rs 500.
View of the First Level from the stairs
View of the First Level from the steps
Adalaj is a small town 18 km south of Gandhinagar, primarily famous for its step well. Completed in 1498, this stepwell or ‘vav’ as called in Gujarati is a five storied intricately carved and beautifully designed structure build primarily of stone with the inner parts made of brick and mortar. It is octagonal in at the top, resting over stone pillars intricately carved and keeps going down one beautiful floor after another. From the first story level, which is the topmost in this case, the stairs from three directions go till the bottom level at the fifth floor to the well. The bottom of the well is a square stepped floor in the shape of a funnel opening in the sky above and supported by a maze of pillars and arches. The walls are adorned with stone carvings of women performing daily chores, scenes of court and kings and other fineries.

Ekta at the Carved windowIt seems that these structures were more than just wells; they used to be a resting spot for travelers and caravans, a congregation place for locals and a meeting place for women where they would collect water, gossip, and worship the deities placed in small temples along the well. The underground part at the bottom looked very much like a palace in itself, with a distinct touch of Islamic architecture.The Islamic influence contains a legend in itself. The construction of this well was started by the local hindu ruler of the area, Rana Veer Singh for his wife. His kingdom was attacked by Mohammed Begda of a neighboring kingdom and the Rana was killed in the battle that ensued. Begda was smitten by the beauty of the queen of Rana, and proposed her to marry him. However the queen put forth a condition to get the well completed before she considered his proposal. So Begda built this well with great hopes in a record time and once it was completed, reminded the queen of her promise. But the queen committed suicide by jumping into the same well started by her late husband and completed by his nemesis, thus ending the saga in tragedy.We were intrigued by the sight of six Islamic graves just next to the well to be informed that these were the resting places of the masons of this great monument by Mohammed Begda so that they could never build another one…





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Adalaj, a set on Flickr.

Level OneIntricate carvingsGujarat 008Parrots on the wallsCarved pillarsCarvingsBase of the wellView of the top from the base of the wellArchesGujarat 023Pigeon atop the barsatiMe showing offIntricate carvingsView of the First Level from the stairsEkta at the Carved windowCarved pillarsTombs of the MasonsView from the top

The First LevelLone Parrot

Gujarat Chronicles I : Adalaj ni Vav 1
Gujarat Chronicles I : Adalaj ni Vav 1
Gujarat Chronicles I : Adalaj ni Vav 1
Gujarat Chronicles I : Adalaj ni Vav 1


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Route Map

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View Larger Map Copyright © 2011 Shadows Galore

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Purnendu Singh

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