Adalaj Stepwell, or Vav in Gujarati, is about 20 km out of city limits. There are buses to take you there, but you can just hire an autorickshaw, and pay the driver extra for the wait time.
The stepwell itself is breathtakingly large, and not at all what you would expect a well to be. Even as you go down five stories into its subterranean depths, you hardly realise that you are so much below ground level. This is because of the expanse of sandstone platforms surrounding the well shaft.
Everywhere there are intricate carvings, starting with the Riddhi-Siddhi Vinayaka carvings at the bottom of the well, just above the water. The motifs used in the other carvings higher up are mostly Islamic... stylized jasmine and chrysanthemum in typical vases, for instance.
The reason behind this blend of Hindu and Islamic design lies in a tragic story of love and war. The ruler who started building the stepwell was Hindu. He was defeated in a war by the Muslim king who took over the kingdom. Locals say that the new ruler fell in love with the Hindu queen who agreed to marry him on condition that the work begun by her husband was completed. It was, in 1499 A.D., with the older Hindu designs remaining untouched, but the new designs being Islamic.
The Rani then leapt to her death in the depths of the well.
Go up to the roof and you will find five graves. They say that this is where the masons are buried because the king did not want them to build any other stepwell equal to the Adalaj Vav.
Great place for photographs with all the jharokhas. You could take along a book and read for some time in the garden adjoining the well. Or sketch, maybe, though that would draw crowds. Look in the local papers for any cultural event that might be taking place in the gardens, and then you could have a two-in-one treat. Remember that it is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., all through the week.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.