Step well of Adalaj

Adalaj_Stepwell Adalaj Vav About 19 kms north of Ahmedabad this stepwell is an architectural wonder built by Queen Rudabai and is certainly one of the finest monuments of Gujarat. It is a seven-storied structure in the form of a well with chambers one behind the other. The 'Vavs' or stepped wells of Gujarat were used as meeting and resting-places during summer since their cool interiors offered unbelievable respite from the scorching sun outside. In the summer people warmed themselves on the spacious sunny corridors while wide verandahs offered shelter during the rains.

The 'Vav' (step-well) at Adalaj derives its name from the lady patron, Ruda, wife of the Vaghela chief, Virsinh. There is an inscription in Sanskrit, which gives the entire history with exact dates. Stepwell perhaps is a unique feature of Gujarat, which speaks of the history, culture, and architecture. It was also considered to be a religious obligation. Kings, rulers, umraos and the rich people of Gujarat spent huge money for constructing these. These step wells used to be frequented by travellers and caravans as stopovers along their trade routes. A unique characteristic of step wells was that they not only conserved water but were also cool chambers where one could rest during hot summer months. In times of drought and scarcity these wells were of great use to common man.

The 'Vav', laid out in the north-south direction, the stepwell with the well in the north and the entrance in the south, has a total length of 75.3 metres. It is the only major monument of its kind, having three entrance stairs leading to the stepped corridor. The stepwell has five storeys and three gates to enter in. It is full of artistic sculptures. The platform rests on 16 pillars, eight on the corners, and two in front of each main side. Four built-in shrines, with doors, windows and balconies, mark the four corners of the platform. The stepped corridor begins from this square platform. The corridor is entirely surrounded by a one-metre high parapet wall with a rounded topping. It descends with four pavilion towers for five storeys. The walls of the 'Vav' are veritable showcases of sculptures and ornamentation.

The stepwell at Adalaj has been preserved by the archaeological department and developed into as a tourist spot. It provides a cool and secluded retreat during the hot summer months. The construction of a stepwell reflected the artistic sense of its promoter. There are hundreds of stepwells in Gujarat, each being unique in its construction. Most of them are simple. The prime purpose behind them could be to serve the people. These step wells attract lots of tourists every year. The carvings, construction and the architecture amaze many experts, since it was built during those days when sophisticated and meticulous engineering techniques had not developed upto the recent standards.

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