The Stepwell of Adalaj

When the earth and air is parched as the rain is prodigal and evasive, every drop of water is a precious diamond.

As a beautiful box, holds an invaluable treasure, so is the water stored in the arid regions of Gujarat. Aesthetic and stunningly carved stone stepwells have been water receptacles, since days when people practiced slow living and art was a way of life.

It would have perhaps taken a couple of generations or more to build a stepwell, but that was how things were done in the day.

The feature of a step well, is steps leading to the bottom where water is collected from the rainfall.

A step well is not an ordinary well, it is an experience every time one descends into the depths. Enthralling designs and unparalleled carvings in stone adorn them. Beauty and functionality marry to create unique works of art which also serve a purpose.

The step well or vav at Adalaj is one of the many found across the Indian subcontinent. The pillars and walls, are adorned with carvings that depict timeless stories and folktales.

The steps go five stories down towards the water source. An octagonal tower lets the rain fall into the catchment below.

Sadly, Adalaj ni Vav as it is locally called, has a tragic tale of love, war, and death.  

Legend goes that the reigning queen of the time, Ruda Devi’s husband began the construction of the well. He was unfortunately killed in a battle begun by Mahmud Begada. The well was unfinished due to his death, so Ruda Devi set out to complete the construction.

But it would not go down well (pun) with society if she as a single woman were to do it on her own. Mahmud Begada proposed to continue the construction, in exchange for her hand in marriage. Ruda Devi agreed that she would marry him, after he finished constructing the well.

The architecture is a fusion of traditional Indian and Islamic styles due to the influence of both cultures.

The arched windows, tower and the water catchment area are hallmarks of the Islamic architecture. The carvings are typically traditional Indian Hindu designs.

So, after the stepwell was complete, did Ruda Devi marry Mahmud Begada? Well, she chose to end her life in the well, that was originally her husband’s creation, rather than marry his killer.

How to get there:

By Road – It is easily found on Google maps.

From Ahmedabad city hire an auto or take a cab. It is a 30 min ride. Transport is easily available to return.

Base yourself in Ahmedabad. It is well connected by road, rail, and air. Ahmedabad and its neighboring towns have several interesting places and experiences.

Ahmedabad City Heritage Walk organized by the Ahmedabad Municipal Cooperation.

Sabarmati River Front

For non-vegetarian foodies, explore the area of Lal Darwaja. It is Ahmedabad’s best kept secret.

Street shopping in the old markets of Law Gardens and Dhalgarwad cloth market.

Modhera Sun Temple

Rani Ki Vav

The houses in Siddhpur.

Some more gems from Gujarat

Siddhpur – A Parisian Arrondissement

An illusion in the afternoon sun… I seem to have stumbled upon a Parisian arrondissement (district)…

Adi Kadi Ki Vav

A legendary tale about two sisters Adi and Kadi who were sacrificed to please the rain gods is often heard from the locals…

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