Rani Ki Vav, Patan, Gujarat, India by Falguni Pear

Rani Ki Vav, Patan, Gujarat, India

Rani ki Vav is a stepwell situated in the town of Patan in the Gujarat state of India. It is located on the banks of the Saraswati river. Popular tradition attributes its construction to Udayamati, the queen of 11th-century Chaulukya king Bhima I, daughter of Chudasama King Khengara of Junagadh.

Stepwells are a distinctive form of subterranean water resource and storage systems on the Indian subcontinent and have been constructed since the third millennium BC. Rani ki Vav was built in the complex Maru-Gurjara architectural style with an inverted temple and seven levels of stairs and holds more than 500 principal sculptures.

Rani ki vav or Ran-ki vav (Queen’s stepwell) was constructed during the rule of the Chaulukya dynasty. Prabandha-Chintamani, composed by the Jain monk Merutunga in 1304, mentions: "Udayamati, the daughter of Naravaraha Khangara, built this novel stepwell at Shripattana (Patan) surpassing the glory of the Sahastralinga Tank". According to it, the stepwell was commissioned in 1063 and was completed after 20 years. It is generally assumed that it was built in the memory of Bhima I (r. c. 1022–1064) by his queen Udayamati and probably completed by Udayamati and Karna after his death.

The stepwell was later completely flooded by the nearby Saraswati river and silted over. In the 1940s, the excavations carried out under the Baroda State revealed the stepwell. In 1986, the major excavation and restoration were carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India. An image of Udayamati was also recovered during the excavation. The restoration was carried out from 1981 to 1987.