Adalaj Stepwell is a unique Hindu water building in the village of Adalaj, close to Ahmedabad town in Gandhinagar district in the Indian state of Gujarat. The stepwell wass built in 1499 by Muslim king Mohammed Begda for Queen Rani Roopba, wife of Veer Singh, the Vaghela Chieftain.
Stepwells are common in the arid and semi-arid regions of India, especially in Gujarat and Rajasthan. The term used for stepwells in Gujarat is Vav while in Rajasthan they are calledBaoli. They are similar in form and function, but have unique architectural characteristics which can help differentiate the two. It is believed that about 200 such stepwells survive in the Gujarat region itself, so its easy to imagine their numbers in the bygone era. However, stepwells have always been a part of the history in this region – the oldest stepwells (or even cylindrical wells) are believed to have been built at Mohanjodaro during the Indus-Valley civilisation.
Going up to a height of about 5 stories, Adalaj ni Vav has been carved with various architectural style, merging Indian and Islamic designs. From the top, it is octagonal in shape with a hole directly over the water body. Various floors are supported by intricately designed pillars. There are air and light vents at different levels arranged in such a way that sunlight doesn’t fall on the stairs or the passageways, except for the well. Three entrances are present in this structure which leads to the first floor landing. Building structure is in Indian style, while the designs on the pillars and walls are depicting Islamic styles. Two important structures present inside this step well are the ‘Ami Khumboor’ meaning ‘a pot of water of life’ and ‘Kalp Vriksha’ meaning the ‘tree of life’, these were carved from a single rock. Frescos representing the nine planets can also be found here. Most of the designs are depictions from the daily life of local people, with ladies talking to each other, king sitting on stool, dancers and musicians.
History and Legend of the Step Well
During 15th century, the region was known as Dandai Desh and ruled by a Hindu king, Rana Veer Singh of Vaghela dynasty. When Mohammad Begda attacked and defeated the king, he proposed the beautiful widow of Rana to marry him. Queen Roopba put forth a condition prior to the marriage to complete this well, but at the end, she ended her life by jumping into this well. It is also believed that there are few tombs near to this structure, which belongs to the masons and architects of this beautiful step well, they were killed by the Muslim ruler as he didn’t want another replica to be built.
Adalaj ni Vav or step well is an example of the structural brilliance in Indian history. It also depicts the master craftsmanship of the people in Gujarat which tells about the importance of such dug wells in the social life of people in this semi arid state of India.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Adalaj Step Well or Adalaj ni Vav is between the months of October and March as the weather during these months are quite pleasant in Ahmedabad and conducive for visiting the step well.
How to Reach
By road: Gujarat has one of the better developed road networks in India. Ahmedabad is well connected with all major cities and towns by road. Prominent bus stops are located at Gitamandir near Kalupur Railway Station and Paldi. Regular bus services are available by Gujarat state transport buses and private operators to all the major destinations of the state.
By rail: The main railway station is located in Kalupur area. This station falls under the prominent national railway circuit and is connected to all major cities of India. If you are on the western side of the Sabarmati river, then you can go to the Gandhigram station near Ashram road to buy your railway tickets easily.
By air: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel airport at Ahmedabad is an international airport with direct flights to USA, UK, Singapore, Dubai and other international hubs. Numerous domestic flights are also operational from here.