Rani ki Vav, located in Patan, was approved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 2014, because it’s an exceptional example of technological development in utilizing ground water resources. This magnificent piece of architecture marks the zenith of the evolution of step well in India, and is noted for its uniquely large and complex structure which consists of seven stories of ornamented panels and relief representing the Maru-Gujara style of architecture.
Among the various Forts and Monuments in Gujarat, Rani ki Vav holds an important place. Owing to its architectural grandeur and sublime art remnant of ancient India, this lovely structure in Patan is a major tourist attraction and draws many travelers from across the world. It is located 2km to the north-west of Patan.
One of the most splendid step wells in Gujarat, Rani ki Vav in Patan is said to have been built by Udaymati, the wife of Bhimdeva-I (1022-63 AD) who belonged to the Solanki dynasty. It was excavated by the Archaeology Survey of India, or the ASI, in the late 1980’s.
Rani ki Vav in Patan measures about 64m in length, 20m in width and 27m in depth. This structure is laid out in the east-west direction with its entrance facing the east and the well proper facing the west direction. It is made up of bricks that are beautifully cut and shaped. The architectural magnificence and elegance of Rani ki Vav in Patan is a rare visual delight.
The interiors of the walls of this well as well as the walls bordering the staircase are decorated with marvelously proportioned statues. Going further down lets one witness over 800 sculptures in the seven galleries, the majority of which are dedicated to Lord Vishnu. These consist of statues of Vishnu (dasha avataras) as Varaha and Kalki, Ganesha, Surya, Bhairava, Kubera, Lakshmi-Narayan, Vishvarupa-Vishnu and Astadikpalas. Some other forms of embellishments can also be seen. Although the lowermost part of the well is now blocked by silt and stones, it was once used as an escape route to neighboring villages.
All these stand testimony to the skillfulness of the Solanki sculptors, in illustrating vigor, rhythm, beauty and diverse moods in stone.