With a population of more than 4.5 million people, the city of Ahmedabad is the business junction of Gujarat. The city situated on the banks of Sabarmati was founded by Sultan Ahmed Shah and has been ruled by several rulers.
It is also renowned for its plethora of historical monuments that gives an insight into its rich culture and heritage. Ahmedabad is ornamented with step wells and the most prominent among them is the Adalaj Step Well which is also popular as Adalaj ni Vav.
Visitors would feel history as they step down the step well with its cool ambiance and colossal architecture. Visiting the historic monument is a captivating experience especially for history buffs. The spectacular edifice was often visited by locals for performing traditional rituals. A striking sandstone structure with a square stepped platform leads to a deep well below.
Stepwells were quite popular in olden days as they were the source of water for drinking and other household needs. They are known as vav in Gujarati and as Baoli in Rajasthani, and are popular especially in semi-arid regions of Gujarat. Water festival held at Adalaj attracted several visitors to witness the excellent performances by eminent musicians.
History of Adalaj Step Well
Stepwells or the stepped ponds were generally built in semi-arid regions of the country especially along trade routes. These architectural sites were often used to store monsoon rains and by several pilgrims and traders passing through the way as their resting place.
Making up an essential part of Ahmedabad’s history, Adalaj Step Well was commissioned by famous queen Rudabai the wife of Vaghela dynasty’s Rana Veer Singh in 1498. He was the ruler of a small kingdom denoted as Dandai Desh.
According to legends the kingdom faced acute shortage of water and to resolve the same, the king Rana Veer Singh decided to build a big stepwell. Though the king started the construction work but could not complete it, as he died in a battle with the Sultan of Gujarat, Mahmud Begada.
Mahmud Begada fell in love with queen Rudabai and wanted to marry her. However the queen agreed to the proposal provided Mahmud completed the construction of the stepwell. After the completion of the vav, queen Rudabai asked few saints to take bath in the water making it a holy well. She then fell into the vav and died.
As Mahmud Begada did not want any replica of the stepwell ordered the killing of the six masons involved in its construction whose tombs can be found near the stepwell. An inscription written in Sanskrit on a marble slab on the first floor indicates the history of this amazing architectural site. It states that the cost of construction was around 5,00,111 tanks or five lakhs.
Image Gallery of Adalaj Stepwell Ahmedabad
Architecture of Adalaj Step Well
The wondrous monument is a five storey stepwell also holds significance owing to the deities engraved on its walls. It is believed that villagers visit the stepwell and offer their prayers to the deities. There is a temple located at the entrance of the vav.
Light peeps in through the opening in the ceiling of the incredibly stunning historic monument that is constructed in the shape of an octagonal. This fascinating structure has been built in such a way that the temperature inside the stepwell is almost 6 degrees lesser than the outside temperature.
There are three entrance stairs leading into the stepwell. A spectacular example of Indo-Islamic architectural style and design features a striking pot said to contain the water of life called the Ami Khumbor and the tree of life called the Kalpavriksha sculpted from a single stone.
A notable feature of the structure is the navgraha at the end of the well that is believed to protect the historic site from evil spirits. Travellers would be delighted viewing the breathtaking windows found on the first floor.
The octagonal shaped stepwell is supported with a huge number of pillars. Every floor had enough space for people to hold gatherings. A well planned step well was dug deep to ensure enough storage of water so that people do not starve during the lack of rainfall.
People can move down through three staircases from the first floor. Walls are ornamented with floral motifs and the wonderful carvings illustrate several impressive images including that of Hindu deities, elephants, flowers, fish, leaves, birds and mini turret.
This classical piece of architecture perfectly blends in Islamic floral and geometric designs and Hindu as well as Jain icons and symbols. Other noteworthy carvings include that of women talking to each other and being overlooked by the king, dancers, musicians and women churning buttermilk.
How to Reach Adalaj Step Well
Adalaj Stepwell is located at a distance of 18 km from Ahmedabad’s Kalupur Railway station. The former capital of Gujarat can be well accessed from various parts of the country through rail, road and air. Ahmedabad’s Sardar Vallabhai Patel airport is located at a distance of 15 km from the renowned stepwell.
Buses can be caught from either the Kalapur or Paldi bus stop. The stepwell lies at a distance of 3-4 km from Gandhinagar. People can catch local taxi, cab or buses to reach the historic site from the railway station, main bus stop or the airport.
Entry Fees and Timings of Adalaj Step Well
Adalaj ni Vav can be visited anytime between 6 am in the morning till 6 pm in the evening and there is no entry fees for visiting the stepwell.
Trimandir, Indora National Park, Dada Harir Vav and Rani ki Vav