Got up early to make the 3.5 hour bus journey to Patan and Rani-Ki-Vav. Asked the hotel how much a TukTuk to the government bus stand would be and he seemed genuinely shocked when I asked if his 30INR was the price for locals or tourists! Got to the bus stand with ease, considering how busy the streets had been when we arrived yesterday – they were grid locked! Asked a local which bus we needed to get to Patan and got a bus pretty much straight away. Clearly a much warmer state than Rajasthan, as the bus became pretty unpleasant and uncomfortable towards the end of the journey – it’s one of the only times I have ever felt travel sick. Arrived in Patan and got a TukTuk to Rani-Ki-Vav (The Queen’s Stepwell). Constructed by Udaimata, Queen of Bhim Deva, in about 1050 A.D., Rani-Ki-Vav is one of the most impressive examples of its kind in existence.
Built as a memorial to her husband, it provided water to the community, an opportunity for the queen to commemorate the memory of her King and to worship the God of Water, Varun.
The practice of digging wells in memory of dead relatives was widely prevalent in ancient times. It is quite remarkable that the construction of most of the stepwells in medieval India were undertaken by women.
Rani-Ki-Vav is 63m in length and 21.5m deep, covered in sculptures and carvings depicting the astonishing variety of myths from ancient scriptures on its walls. The storage well itself represents the real form of Lord Varun, instead of having a stone idol.
Covered in silt up until 1960, from the river floods over the centuries, only the top part of the well was seen through vegetation and covered in cement by the locals. It took almost 2x decades to uncover the depths of the well and restore most of its features, with restoration still taking place on some of the statues and idols.
Jayne had pretty much banned me from seeing any photos of Rani-Ki-Vav until we walked up the path to the stepwell. Knowing full well how different it was going to be from any other site we’d seen so far, the size and grandeur of the site was staggering to behold and no photo will do it justice – even Jayne was giddy from seeing it!
Spent time walking around inside and around the top, looking at all the different angles and sculptures – we could have stayed for hours. However, the hassle from locals was pretty intense. By far the worst we’ve had so far with cameras pushed in our faces every minute and people following us. Managed to find a quiet area but, as it was directly in the sun, I slowly began cooking and Jayne began melting!! One last tour of the stepwell, avoiding most of the locals with help from the security guard and we headed back to the bus stand.
Waited for the second bus back to Ahmedabad as the first bus was so hot and smelly we got on and got straight back off again – there was no way we would have managed it for 3.5 hours!! Got off the bus a little earlier than scheduled as I began to feel sick again and decided we’d rather walk for a few km rather than remain on the bus! Found an Internet cafe on our way back to the hotel and booked our accommodation for Vadodara. Had dinner, a long cold shower, then bed!