Rani ki Vav at Patan is a UNSCO World Heritage Site. It is managed by the Archaeological Survey of India. Outside the monument the board says the step well was filled up almost to the top when ASI started digging in 1958! It is difficult to imagine that such a majestic structure could get clogged with debris and pass out of human memory. Patan is a few hours drive from Ahmedabad in Gujarat, India. You can take a detour to Patan if you are traveling to Little Rann of Kutch from Ahmedabad.
The UNESCO World Heritage Citation tells us the following about the Rani Ki Vav
“Rani-ki-Vav is an exceptional example of a distinctive form of subterranean water architecture of the Indian subcontinent, the stepwell, which is located on the banks of the Saraswati River in Patan. Initially built as a memorial in the 11th century CE, the stepwell was constructed as a religious as well as functional structure and designed as an inverted temple highlighting the sanctity of water. Rani-ki-Vav is a single-component, water management system divided into seven levels of stairs and sculptural panels of high artistic and aesthetic quality. It is oriented in an east-west direction and combines all of the principle components of a stepwell, including a stepped corridor beginning at ground level, a series of four pavilions with an increasing amount of storeys towards the west, the tank, and the well in tunnel shaft form. More than five hundred principle sculptures and over a thousand minor ones combine religious, mythological and secular imagery, often referencing literary works.”
It is said that the step well was constructed by the Queen Udayamati in the memory of King Bhimdev I of the Solanki Dynasty. It is said to be build in 11 century CE. The place is spectacular to look at in totality and in its finer details!
I visited Rani ki Vav right after visiting the Sun Temple at Modhera. We started the day with a morning safari at Little Rann of Kutch, then visited the sun temple, followed by the Rani Vav. By now I was a little tired. Our group was so keen on exploring that we had a brunch at 11.00 am and decided to skip lunch so that we could see all the sites. It is a pleasure when you get to travel with such a enthusiastic bunch!
We were quite impressed by the two toddlers at Rani ki Vav. The stairs were almost as high as they were, and yet they walked for most on the part on their own!
I asked my teammate Harsh, “where is the well in this step well? He was an intern with Gujarat Tourism. He told me the well was visible from the other side. And sure enough once I walked out of the main structure and went to the west side, I could see the deep well.
After my recent visits to Jodhpur and Gujarat I have been wondering why did history as a subject made so little impression on me all through my school and college days? I had History as a subject in my graduation too and yet hardly anything registered.
If I will be honest, even while traveling history and culture were not that high on my list. Something has changed recently, maybe it is just that I am getting old and I can somehow appreciate history better now. It still leaves me puzzled that why do we Indians take so little pride in the magnificence of our history? Let me know if you have any answers?
PS. I was invited on this trip by Gujarat Tourism
I was amazed by the sheer size of the Chittorgarh Fort. The place was immense. I was told the area of the fort is 700 acres and it would take 3 days if I wanted to see it properly. Chittorgarh Fort is also one of the living forts where people have their homes, though no new construction is allowed. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It was a pity that I had so little time to see this majestic monument. The fort’s construction is attributed to 7 AD by the Maurya ruler Chitrangada Mori. It then came to the Sisodiya Rulers of Rajasthan.
There are many temples within the fort. There is one devoted to Mira Bai as well, though not the one in picture above. It is so fascinating to go to places and see structures that I previously knew from the history books only. After all the Mira Bai story I think was part of some history lesson for me. It was a Hindi movie from my childhood too.
The other famous spot from my history lessons was the Rani Padmini’s palace and the story of Aladuddin Khilji. The legend goes that Khilji was smitten by the queen and he wanted to see her. They show you the mirror in which Khilji was able to see the queen’s image. And if you actually turn back and try to see the spot where the queen would have been standing, you cannot see it. It is visible only in the mirror. I have never been a fan of the queens setting themselves on fire if the menfolk lost a battle but then who am I to judge such ancient times.
There is a 9 story structure within the fort called the Vijay Stambh (victory pillar) and you can climb it till 8th floor. The stairs are narrow and dark. But it was fun going up the structure. This was the view of the city from the place. It was totally worth it. I was also so surprised to see all the idols defaced within the structure, I mean there were a lot of statues and all defaced. That would have been a lot of work for some people! But then religion is such a complex thing.
Finally it was time for the light and sound show which told us the history of the fort in an amazing way. Once again I could recognize a story from my history books, that of Panna Dhai who puts her son to be killed in order to save the crown prince!
While reading the books I never imagined the fort to be such a grand place, seeing it was something else. But then I never have had a vivid imagination nor too much of a fascination for history. After a while I tend to forget all the stories.
I visited Chittorgarh Fort from the Lake Palace, Nahargarh which is about 30km from the city.
It was monsoon when I visited Siem Reap. The visit to Angkor Wat was not officially on agenda. So I made efforts to get it on my agenda and I was successful too! Well partially successful I should say as weather is something that is beyond anybody’s control!
Sunrise at Angkor Wat
If I do not do anything else today, my day has been made. I went out of schedule to visit Angkor Wat at sunrise. My day started at 4.30 am. I had my umbrella with me. I was determined to go, come rain or sunshine! The rain gods were mildly kind to me. At least there was no rain and there was some kind of a sunrise too. So here is a video of the sunrise at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap Cambodia.
I was warned by others that I had to go in early to get a place near the water body. I was not sure what to expect. Now that I have been there, it really gets crowded and you cannot get near the temple if you do not go early in the morning. And this was not even some special holiday, this was a normal day in the life of Angkor Wat I guess!
There are small shops nearby who try to lure you for breakfast once the sun has gone up high and people have lost interest in it. It sounded like a good idea, only mine was waiting for me at the hotel! My tuktuk driver was also outside waiting to take me back to my hotel Sokha Angkor.
Then I visited the temple again at 8.30 am with the ASEAN Media Group and explored it in greater detail. Siem Reap is is not a place, it is a concept. It is am amazing place. I head back to Bangkok today and them home tomorrow.
I hope you enjoyed the video. It is an amazing place and I guess it is cheaper to visit than many places in India.
This week’s sky watch is from the Qutub Minar complex in Delhi. Qutub Minar is a UNESCO world heritage site as well.
And while you are reading this I would be traveling to Lakshman Sagar in Pali, Rajasthan. So be prepared for new stories and more skies. I have been anyway rummaging my file folders to find new pictures to post.
Please visit the Sky Watch page for more skies from around the world. Better still share your own picture!