Rani ki vav or the Queen’s Stepwell at Patan, Gujarat has been bestowed with this honor a few days back under criteria i and iv which say. First criterion is the structure represents a masterpiece of human creative genius and second criterion says the item under consideration is an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates significant stages in human history.
Rani-ki-Vav (the Queen’s Step well) at Patan, Gujarat is located on the banks of the Saraswati River and was initially built as a memorial to a king in the 11th century AD. Rani or the queen Udayamati commissioned this vav or step well, in 1063 in the memory of her husband King Bhimdev I of the Solanki dynasty. Rani-ki-Vav was built at the height of craftsman’s ability in step well construction and the Maru-Gurjara architectural style, reflecting mastery of this complex technique and great beauty of detail and proportions. Designed as an inverted temple highlighting the sanctity of water, it is divided into seven levels of stairs with sculptural panels of high artistic quality. The vav was later flooded by the nearby Saraswati River and silted over until the late eighties, when it was excavated by the Archaeological Survey of India, with the carvings found in pristine condition. Rani Ki Vav is among the finest step wells in India, and one of the most famous legacies of the ancient capital city.
The vavs of Gujarat are not merely sites for collecting water and socializing, but also simultaneously hold great spiritual significance. They were originally constructed quite simply, but became more intricate over the years, perhaps to make explicit this ancient concept of the sanctity of water by carving it out in stone deities thus representing a subterranean temple.
The steps begin at ground level, leading you down through the cool air through several pillared pavilions to reach the deep well below. There are more than 800 elaborate sculptures among seven galleries. The central theme is the Dasavataras, or ten incarnations of Vishnu, including Buddha. The avatars are accompanied by sadhus, Brahmins, and apsaras (celestial dancers), painting their lips and adorning themselves. At water level you come to a carving of Sheshashayi-Vishnu, in which Vishnu reclines on the thousand-hooded serpent Shesha, where it is said he rests in the infinity between epochs.
The fourth level is the deepest and leads into a rectangular tank of 9.5 by 9.4 meters, at a depth of 23 meters. The well is located at the westernmost end of the property and consists of a shaft, 10 meters in diameter and 30 meters deep.
For more pictures visit the Unesco page.