Rani ki Vav overview, Patan, Gujarat | Stepwell Photos
Rani ki Vav is surely the mother of all stepwells: in its size, the scale and intricacy of carvings; and also in its history
It was built in the 11th century by Queen Udaymati after the death of her King Bhimadeva. Apparently the nearby river Saraswati changed course and flooded the well with water and silt, hiding it for centuries until its excavation was started in 1958.
Restoration took 30 years and I saw a publicity photograph in the following years which led to my fascination with stepwell architecture. For many years I carried around a photograph to show my Indian friends but no-one knew of it. Our Gujarati friend Lala Ram had heard of it but wasn't sure where it was to be found. More recently the internet has made it a little easier to find locations of stepwells - at least in theory.
The size is awesome: 64 metres long, 7 storeys and 27 metres deep. Built from sandstone with hardly an undecorated surface: 1500 figures of gods and mythical creatures are carved into the walls and pillars. The well shaft at the far end is 10 metres diameter and 30 metres deep.
Rani ki Vav was scanned over a two week period in 2011 by the Scottish Ten team and colleagues from CyArk, the Digital Design Studio at The Glasgow School of Art, and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) - watch their amazing video here.
The image is a composite of 5 full frame photos which means that it can be reproduced to larger sizes, up to 1500 cm wide - email Peter for details: firstname.lastname@example.org
A guide to approx sizes
A3: paper size 42x29.7cm, image size 40x28cm
A2: paper size 59.4x42cm, image size 57x40cm
70x50cm paper size, image size 68x48cm
What is a stepwell? Read our blog to find out.