Rani-ki-Vav




Rani-ki-Vav

Site Information

Country: India
State: Patan, Gujarat
Location: 23° 51' 32" N - 72° 6' 6" E
Field Documentation Date(s): October 1st, 2011
Project Release Date(s): October 1st, 2012
Time Range: 1022 CE - 1063 CE
Era: Chalukya
world map with location

Drawing of the aerial plan view of Rani ki Vav

Site Description

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Located in Patan, in the northwestern state of Gujarat, India, Rani ki Vav, or The Queen's Stepwell, contains nearly four hundred niches along pillared multi-storied pavilions. Built between 1022-1063 CE by the widowed queen Udayamati, possibly in memory of her husband, Bhimdev I, the stepwell served as a communal water source for Patan's royalty. In Hindi, "Rani" means "Queen," and "Vav" means "Well."

The Queen's Stepwell is adorned with some 400 one-meter tall carved panels representing Hindu deities and their various incarnations, most commonly Vishnu, as well as colonnades adorned with carved water vessels with overflowing foliage, representing water as the key to life. The rectangular structure is approximately 64m long and 20m wide, with seven pillared stepped terraces that approach the 27m deep, 7m diameter well.

Over time, Rani ki Vav was filled with silt, with only the top-most layers visible. It was finally excavated in the 1960s, revealing the splendid preservation of its lower levels, including the details of the carvings from the statuettes' curled toes to their beaded jewelry. Its scale and grandeur have earned it a place on the Tentative List for UNESCO World Heritage status.
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History

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Located in Patan, in the northwestern state of Gujarat, India, Rani ki Vav, or The Queen's Stepwell, contains nearly four hundred niches along pillared multi-storied pavilions. Built between 1022-1063 CE by the widowed queen Udayamati, possibly in memory of her husband, Bhimdev I, the stepwell served as a communal water source for Patan's royalty.

The Queen's Stepwell is adorned with some 400 one-meter tall carved panels representing Hindu deities and their various incarnations, most commonly Vishnu, as well as colonnades adorned with carved water vessels with overflowing foliage, representing water as the key to life. The rectangular structure is approximately 64m long and 20m wide, with seven pillared stepped terraces that approach the 27m deep, 7m diameter well.

Over time, Rani ki Vav was filled with silt, with only the top-most layers visible. It was finally excavated in the 1960s, revealing the splendid preservation of its lower levels, including the details of the carvings from the statuettes' curled toes to their beaded jewelry. Its scale and grandeur have earned it a place on the Tentative List for UNESCO World Heritage status.
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Perspective of a close-range scan showing a panel of sculptures

Project Narrative

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The site is well maintained with lush grassy picnic areas for visitors, as well as continued conservation and restoration works by a team of dedicated architects, surveyors, and site staff. To aid on-going efforts as well as supplement the bid for UNESCO World Heritage status, Rani ki Vav was chosen by the Archaeological Survey of India as the site for digital preservation, to be supplied by the Scottish Ten initiative between Historic Scotland, the Glasgow School of Art, and CyArk. In October, 2011, the Scottish Ten team digitally mapped the stepwell over the course of two weeks. The Archaeological Survey of India will oversee ongoing conservation of the site.
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