A Brief Introduction
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."
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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.
The site today 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 used the data to bolster its 2012 dossier nominating the site for UNESCO World Heritage status. In June 2014, Rani ki Vav was designated a World Heritage Site. The Archaeological Survey of India will continue to use the data to aid ongoing conservation.
For more information about the Scottish Ten, visit their website.