Every time we take the SG highway and turn left – just before the bridge – to go to R-World, we fail to realise that turning right at that moment can take us to one of the most magnificent heritage structure of the nation. Want to try the next time?

By now, we’ve learnt one thing – that this page is one of the most loved page of League. Probably, it takes you to places that you’ve always wanted to go; but could not go because of pressing business. We say, take the first step and before you know, you’ll be on a life long journey with life.

This month, we take you to Adalaj, a sleepy village, 19 kms from Ahmedabad and 5 kms from Gandhinagar.

There are about 120 vavs or step-wells spread across Gujarat. However, the vav situated in Adalaj is clearly the most popular one with tourists from far and wide. The Adalaj vav is in fact a na vav, literally meaning an upside down architecture of a step-well.

The legend behind the origin of this step-well is as interesting as its architecture and is shrouded in beauty, romance and tragedy. In AD 1499, the area around Adalaj was known as Dandai Desh and was ruled by Rana Veer Singh of the Vaghela dynasty. Around this time, Mohammed Begda, a Muslim ruler of a neighboring state attacked Dandai Desh and killed Rana Veer Singh. The beauty of the slain king’s widow, Rani Roopba, enamored Mohammed Begda who sent her a proposal of marriage. The heartbroken but determined queen agreed to the proposal on the condition that he complete a five-storied step-well (vav) for her. The Muslim ruler, enticed by the charm of the queen, readily agreed.

The construction of this well had begun years ago under Rana Veer Singh but had to be stopped later. Begda resumed this project with great enthusiasm and got the well completed in record time. When this five-storied edifice was completed but for the dome, Begda renewed his proposal. The next day, Roopba took a round of the well and saying a final prayer, flung herself into the water and drowned.

In the vicinity of the well are graves of the six masons who were instrumental in erecting it. It is believed when Mohammed Begda asked them if another vav was possible, they replied in the affirmative. This proved to be their undoing and they were instantly put to death. Perhaps that is why the Adlaj step-well stands unrivalled till today.

Mohammed Begda immediately stopped further construction but did not get the monument demolished probably because Roopba had employed Muslim masons who had decorated it with Islamic motifs. The incidents, which led to the erection of this unique well, are detailed on the walls and pillars of the vav in Sanskrit and Pali (an ancient language).

The Adalaj Vav is a classic example of the Indo-Islamic style of architecture and has features of both the styles. The intricate floral patterns, which are a part of the Islamic style, can be seen in harmony with Hindu symbolism, which includes depiction of animal and human forms.

Built entirely of sandstone, one can enter into this step-well from three sides, which consist of octagonal andings with huge carved colonnades and intricately carved niches.

The main attraction of this step-well is the pool of water at the lowest level. Besides this, there is a niche here that houses an ami khumb or a pot that contains the water of life and a kalpa vriksha or a tree of life made out of a single stone slab.

Unfortunately, there is only as much that you can write about a place as magnificent as this one. We say, take your 2-wheeler and hit the SG highway.


Author. Entrepreneur. Filmmaker. Journalist.

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