Adalaj Step Well: Ahmedabad’s Oasis

When I think of the step well or Vaav as we call it in Gujarati at Adalaj, I remember running around as a kid in its cool insides when visiting the place for family picnics. Then, as now Adalaj Vaav was one of the must see locations for visitors to Ahmedabad. While a lot has changed with new attractions sprouting all across the Gandhinagar – Ahmedabad belt, Gujarat is still as dry and as hot as it has always been. Dry Gujarat is the reason for the existence of step wells like the one at Adalaj. Step wells constructed with a roof to keep most of the sunlight out, are literally like an oasis in the desert.

Adalaj Vav Multi Storeyed StructureAdalaj Vav Multi Storeyed Structure
Close
Adalaj Vav Multi Storeyed Structure27-Sep-2009 16:42, Canon Canon PowerShot S3 IS, 2.7, 6.2mm, 0.013 sec
 
Adalaj step well is located in Gandhinagar district near Ahmedabad city. One of the most beautiful pieces of architecture in the Gujarat, it was built by the wife of a Waghela chief. The oblong step well runs from north to south with its entry being in the southern direction. The beautiful step well has various carvings on it. It has carvings showing the nine planets of the universe, erotic scenes, scenes showing churning of buttermilk, Bhairava, female dancers and musicians, various animals and birds like Gaja – Sardula and symbolic representation of the mother goddesses.

Adalaj VavAdalaj Vav
Close
Adalaj Vav27-Sep-2009 16:46, Canon Canon PowerShot S3 IS, 2.7, 6.1mm, 0.02 sec
 
 Step wells were created initially to ensure that the drawing of water from the well is easy and not just humans, but cattle can also access the water of the well. Initially built for conserving water, step wells were also covered to ensure that they don’t lose water to evaporation. This led to larger and grander structures of step wells being built. Step wells later turned into places for rest for weary travellers and for meetings and chit chat among the women folk of the village.

Adalaj VavAdalaj Vav
Close
Adalaj Vav27-Sep-2009 16:48, Canon Canon PowerShot S3 IS, 2.7, 6.1mm, 0.033 sec
 
 Step wells were built all across Gujarat, with the notable ones being the Step well at Modhera sun temple, Rani ki Vav and the Adalaj Step well.

Close
27-Sep-2009 16:49, Canon Canon PowerShot S3 IS, 2.7, 6.0mm, 0.077 sec
 

Even today, the step wells emanate a sense of calm amidst the sweltering heat and provide a place to sit back in repose as the rest of Ahmedabad scurries after the stock market. The beautiful Adalaj step well is very well connected to Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad and is located on the NH 8C from Sarkhej to Gandhinagar. Adalaj warrants a visit of 3 to 4 hours on the way to Gandhinagar and may be while you experience the splendid roads of Gujarat, you can try and make a short detour to Purohit Dal Bati for a sumptous Rajasthani meal.

Adalaj VavAdalaj Vav
Close
Adalaj Vav27-Sep-2009 17:06, Canon Canon PowerShot S3 IS, 2.7, 6.0mm, 0.001 sec
 

The Modi government has maintained and developed the area around this historic monument well and while the walls are crumbling as is always the case, the green, well developed lawns are inviting and peaceful.

P.S.

A very good write up with explanations about each level of the step well is available at this site about Oriental Architecture.

And this one at Managalorean provides further insight in the history of Adalaj ni Vav.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *