Rani ki Vav Stepped Well
Patan is primarily known for Rani ki Vav and generally one day trip from Ahmedabad. Frequent state transport busses (Once in hour) ply between Ahmedabad and Patan (Via Mehsana). Patan is a quirky little delight and lively for no particular reason. Patan is blessed with a vibrant market which even has a multiplex. Tourists are something of an oddity here but locals are welcoming and very helpful. While enjoying the cold beverage on a queer counter, I met Mehul Salvi who manages a manufacturing unit of the Patola of Patan. He edified me with the meticulous process of manufacturing a patola and invited me to visit his place. January is also the time for Modhera Dance festival but unfortunately it was over few days before our arrival. Dance festival could have been an evening delight. During the whole trip of Gujarat we had not watched any movie and Patan was our last chance. When I inquired, I was surprised to know that tickets were sold out for movies. Luckily we managed to get tickets for a substandard release which turned to a torture.
Steps to Sabha Mandap Sun Temple Modhera
Stepped Well and Miniature shrines at Sun Temple
Following morning we headed to Modhera to visit Sun Temple. Modhera is a small village 35 km from Patan and connected with frequent busses. The Sun Temple-Modhera means a devotional poetry depicted in the stones of time the Sun Temple of Modhera is a resplendent example of decorated stones. If one evaluate temple according to artistic and architectural points of view, it looks to be situated on rising plateau of a hill i.e it stands high on a plinth overlooking a deep stone-stepped tank. Surya kund is in front of the temple and measures 176 feet north to south, by 120 feet east to west. Tank has many steps and terraces leading to the water level. The outer façade of the temple have a string of friezes and above that is the mandovara with excellent carvings of God and Goddesses. Rayadi Hawa Mahal, Prachin Vav and the temple of Goddess Modheshwari are other architectural delights in the outskirts of Modhera village. Sun temple of Modhera is the key archeological attraction in the north of Gujarat thus promoted hugely by State Tourism Department. The village however does not have accommodation facilities and other tourist services.
Sun Temple Modhera
Taking the same route in reverse, we were back to Patan and headed to Rani ki Vav which is the prime attraction of the town. Rani ki Vav is situated some 3 km away from the bus stand and can be reached by private autos (30 INR).This magnificent step wells is said to have been constructed by Udayamati, the queen of Bhimdeva-1 (A.D 1022-1063) in the last quarter of 11th century AD. Bhimdeva 1 was son of Mularaja, the founder of the solanki dynasty of Anahilwada patan.
Sculptures of Vishnu in Rani ki Vav
The Vav measuring about 64 meters long, 20 meters wide and 27 meters deep is laid out in the east-west direction with well proper in the west. This well has a pillared multi-storeyed pavilion, a drawn well and a large tank for collecting surplus water. It must have been one of the largest and the most sumptuous structure of its kind.
Rani Ki Vav Step Well Patan
The architectural brilliance and elegance of the vav is represented in its pristine glory in the ornamental work. The beautifully proportioned sculptures of gracefully carved mahisasuramardini, parvati and other Saiva sculptures, Vishnu in different forms, Bhairava, Ganesha, Surya, Kubera, Lakshminarayan, Ashtadikpalas and other forms adorn the walls, The female figures has been depicted in various poses of Apsaras, Nagakanyas, Yoginis etc.
Varaha Avatar of Vishnu in Patan
After independence Rani ki Vav came into the custody of Archaeological Survey of India and was declared as protected monument of national importance.
This step well was buried for centuries and suffered damage in the past due to negligence and flood in the river Saraswati. Till 1960's nobody knew that there existed the most ornate and highly sculptured Vav. At this time, the Vav was completely filled up except the Top.
Ornamental Carving on the pillars
Archeological Survey of India started excavations here in 1958. The painstaking efforts of archaeological survey of India exposed the hidden treasures of sculptural and architectural wealth in its original dimension and splendor through careful excavation, desalting and removal of debris. The loose sculptures, architectural members and stones fallen in the Vav were lifted and set right in their position.
Befitting its name, the Rani ki Vav, is now considered to be the queen among the step wells of India.
Weaving work of the Patola of Patan
At the end of our day in Patan, we visited the manufacturing unit of Patola of patan where I was invited last evening. I admire his welcoming attitude and patience he portrays while explaining every minute detail about Patola. Patola of patan is famous for “double Ikat” weaving work which means equal design on both side, wearable on both side and even weaver cannot identify which side is front and which is back. If there are 3 persons working on a Patola sari then it takes 4 to 6 months to weave one. Patola of Patan lasts up to 100 years and keeps the color approximately 300 years. There are at least 20 small and big processes in the making of Patola of patan. Due to such painstaking job, patola sari varies from 150000 INR to 30000 INR.
Sabha Mandap Sun Temple Modhera
Finally the moment of separation arrived… we were folding our belongings for the last time… it was an acrid and unnerving feeling for not having unfamiliar destinations on the cards any longer… Uncertainly of the familiar life is more irksome than the uncertainly of the life on the road… uncertainty is good and becomes inspiring if it’s not attached with any desire… while boarding the bus back to Palanpur, my worst fear and desire met again…and not for the first time… my time in Gujarat was on the verge just like few more sentences of this travel blog… On the spur of the moment, I exposed my senses to grasp as much as I can from Gujarat, a state for which I fell in not immediately but after traveling together for a while…Gujarat exhibits its true splendor only to its long term companions….long shadows of evening became night and the train arrived…. leaving… leaving a lot unseen like every other journey which never completes….
Trailing Gujarat Series: In Chronological Order