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So, once upon a time I visited the Adalaj Stepwell. But I was not even aware of that place when the journey started. The original destiation was Lothal. So, how does one set out for the vestiges of prehistoric Indus Valley (Indus-Saraswati if you like) but end up in a 15th century well created to quench the thirst of a perennially parched region? As a matter of fact I still do not have the answer. Nevertheless, let me make an attempt to share the three year old misadvaenture that some other involved parties prefer not to discuss out of embarassment (So I shall not name them).
How not to visit Lothal
Never take a map with you. Do not cross check your route. Ask people who have no idea about it.
That is exactly what we did. Three of us set out on two bikes in the morning from Ahemdabad. The winter morning was a bit cold but uncomfortable. During those innocent days I only owned the little Nikon Coolpix L10, my first ever digicam with 5 megapixel and 3X zoom. It managed to capture a few semi-decent morning shots.
Till then the mood was upbeat and gleefully unaware of what was in store. We stopped to have tea and snacks in some colourfully designed dhabas.
Things started to go wrong after this. After about an hour, we realized that we have literally come “full circle” as we passed the same shop twice. We tried asking the local people but nobody seemed to have any love for prehistory or for that matter lost explorers. One of them finally suggested that we visit the Adajal Stepwell which was quite nearby.
Adalaj Stepwell or Adalaj ni Vav
So what on earth is a stepwell?
Western India has always suffered from scarcity of water. So, the local rulers used to protect the water reservoirs by bulding a large structure around them. There is basically a pond and a large structure around it with steps to descend to the water source. It was built by Rani Roopba, wife of Veer Singh, the Vaghela chieftain. You can check out the noticeboard below for more information.
Also, make no mistake, it is not merely a well. It is a complete structure replete with intricately carved mythological sculptures. The following pictures should provide a good idea about it.
Finally, a group of school kids stormed the compound (apparently on an educational tour) and ruined the tranquilty of the place. So, we left the place, still a bit disappointed but not totally devastated. Certain questions will keep haunting us forever.
How to reach?
I still have no idea. Apparently you have to travel northwards from Ahmedabad taking Nationa Highway 8C (Sarkhej Gandhinagar Road).
What to look for?
Mediavel archetecture and sculpture that shows a blend of Islamic and Rajput styles.
How much time does it take?
A couple of hours of travelling and a couple more at the spot. Try to wrap it up early morning or leave it for the afternoon because it is hot in western India even during winter.