Adalaj, Modhera, Patan & Sidhpur – Vav, vav – Wow!

* Vav = ‘Step-well’ in Gujarati.

Adalaj, Modhera, Patan, Sidhpur, Rani ki vav, Sahasraling talav, Sun temple, Step wells of Gujarat, Patola

Once upon a time, when Doordarshan was the only channel on TV, I had seen a Gujarati movie on a Sunday afternoon. It was Ketan Mehta’s "Bhavni Bhavai"- starring Naseeruddin Shah & Smita Patil. Based on a Gujarati folk tale, some significant scenes from the movie were shot in a step-well, the images of which remained etched in my memory.

One fine day I chanced upon some pics on a forum, which triggered off a chain of thoughts and I could connect the dots… the step-well I remembered from the movie was probably the ‘Adalaj ki vav’ near Ahmedabad or the ‘Rani Ki Vav’ in Patan! Added these to our to-see list for some day.

Time rolled on and I got into IIMA and Ahmedabad was my base for a year. Sangeetha was in Ahmedabad during the weekend of 26th & 27th June 2010, I spoke to her about the Vav and we decided to go check out the place.

26th June 2010
Places covered

  • Adalaj – The amazing step-well (Vav)
  • Modhera – The Sun temple of Modhera
  • Patan – The Rani ki vav, Sahasra ling Talav and a couple of places
  • Sidhpur – Walked around through the town to see the unique Bohra architecture and the colorful houses in the old quarter of the ‘Paris of India!’

Mode of transport – Hired a cab for the whole day and distance covered was 318 kms.

Route map for places covered on the 26th:

Started from the Campus at around 6.15am on the 26th of June 2010. There wasn’t any traffic at that hour, so we were in Adalaj in about 30 – 40 minutes…

We were not sure if the place would be open at that time… if it was closed, we planned to visit the well either on our way back or some other time. (It is just around 20+ kms from campus, so we could have planned a visit any time.)

Luckily the place was open! Since people come to the well to perform Puja, looks like the Vav is open all through…

It is an amazing place… we spent almost 1.5 hours exploring the area and wondering at the effort that must have gone in to build such a place…


The Adalaj step-well is a popular tourist attraction of the city and is situated 18 km. south of Gandhinagar. The well was built in 1499 A.D. by Queen Rudabai. The step well or Vav, as it is called in Gujarati, is intricately carved and is several stories in depth. The designs on its walls and pillars include leaves, flowers, birds, fish and other breath-taking ornamental designs. In the past, these step wells were frequented by travellers and caravans as stopovers along trade routes.

Two spiral staircases lead down to the balconies around the well-shaft…

The second well shaft in the complex…

Fish – A traditional Indian symbol for water…

By the way, be a little careful while walking down the spiral staircase, you’ll find plenty of bats hanging from the sides and the ceiling…

Came out of the complex and took a walk around the complex before moving on…

I read somewhere that these are graves of some of the folks who built the well…

We hit the highway towards Mehsana, stopped at a hotel on the way for breakfast…

Gujarat has great roads… should get my car to Ahmedabad sometime soon…

Next stop was to see the incredibly beautiful Sun-temple at Modhera.

Wikipedia says : The Sun Temple was built by Raja Bhimdev I of Solanki Dynasty in AD 1026. This was the time when Somnath and the adjoining area was plundered by Mahmud Ghazni and reeled under the effects of his invasion.
The Solankis, however, regained much of their lost power and splendour. Anahilvad Patan, the Solanki capital, was restored to glory. Royalty and traders jointly contributed to build grand temples…

The idol from the Garbagriha is long gone, apparently destroyed during one of Allauddin Khilji’s raids on the temple. This 1886 pen & ink drawing of a sculpture on the temple’s panels probably indicates what the idol would have looked like.

Courtesy: British Library

Time and nature have taken their toll on the temple. The intricate details of most of the statues are being eroded away…

Hmmm… Spying on us eh?

The temple is also home to quite a few birds, squirrels and wasps? (They don’t look like bees do they?)

Clean up first > check out the surroundings > find a comfortable position > curl up and > ZZZZ…

Took some more pics from in and around the temple…

Throughout out trip, we came across a number of colourful birds… looks like Gujarat is a bird watcher’s paradise.

Next on, we headed towards Patan…

The Sahasraling Talav at Patan. "Siddhraj Jaysinh built the reservoir Sahasralinga Talav, meaning "lake of a thousand lingas", just north of Rani Ki Vav in 1084, over a lake originally known as Durlabh Sarovar, built by the King of Durlabhray. During his rule he had many artificial tanks built in different parts of Gujarat, but this one surpasses all the others, technologically, artistically, and spiritually."

Like in Rani Ki Vav, the architecture represents the integration of careful water management with the sanctity of water. Of the 7-hectare spread of ruins only 20 percent has been unearthed, excavated in 1942-43, and though it was destroyed three times in attacks, its splendour is still evident.

There is a finely carved three-ringed sluice gate that channelled water from the Saraswati river into the reservoir, and it is said that the lake had inbuilt natural filtration.

The reservoir contains elaborate sculptures of deities and impressive columns that once supported a ceiling. On the banks were the remains of a Shiva temple with a colonnade of forty-eight pillars, and numerous small temples of Shiva and Parvati.

By the time we were ready to leave the Sahasraling Talav, it was way past lunch time and we were ravenously hungry. We went back into Patan town and found a hotel for a quick hot lunch.

Bought some dates to munch on…and headed towards the ‘Rani Ki Vav’.

Some more colourful birds on the lawns around Rani Ki Vav…


2 comments to...
“Adalaj, Modhera, Patan & Sidhpur – Vav, vav – Wow!”

We were architecturally so sound…what happened then! Adalaj and Modhera are the places that make you wonder about Lovely pictures! specially the squirrel one!

Shruthi Hegde

Stumbled upon your blog while searching for information about Ahmedabad and surrounding places… Very good write up and beautiful pictures…Keep up the good work!


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