Rani Ki Vav is the oldest and the grandest stepwell in the state of Gujarat. It is situated at Patan and is believed to have been built during 1022 to 1063 AD. The construction was completed by the widowed queen Udayamati. She was the wife of King Bhimdev I, son of Mularaja, the founder of the Solanki dynasty of Anahilwada Pattan. It is a richly sculptured monument and a major tourist spot in Patan. The size of the Rani Ki Vav is so huge that the tourists appear to be ants climbing an anthill.
Due to silting, a major portion of the well has deteriorated. There
were some renovation exercises in 1980, which have restored some of the
ancient glory of the place. One of its pillars is so beautifully carved,
that it reminds one of the ancient charm of the monument. It appears the
well is made up of bricks. There is small gateway just below the last
step of the Rani Ki Vav well. The gateway opens into a 30 km tunnel
which leads to the nearby town of Siddhpur. This was used by the King to
escape in the times of defeat.
The tunnel has now been blocked by stones and mud to avoid any mishap.
There are 7 storeys in the step-well and the steps are intricately
carved. There are sculptures of the avatars of the Hindu Gods, Jain
Gurus, Goddesses, Apsaras, etc. Most of the sculptures are in devotion
to Lord Vishnu. It is said that around 60 years back there were
Ayurvedic plants near the well which possessed medicinal properties. Due
to this, the water of the well also gained curative powers capable of
healing viral disease, fever, etc.
Also, there were Chambers built in the Rani Ki Vav. Here, the royal
families rested in the summer months. The water from the well acted as
the natural air conditioner by decreasing the heat and making the breeze
cool. The archaeologists are thinking of excavating the nearby area. It
is believed that there must be palaces and royal residences in the
vicinity, which used the well as the medium for air cooling.