THE ADALAJ STEPWELL
Updated: Sep 11, 2021
Architectural styles : Islamic architecture, Hindu temple architecture
Introduction : Adalaj Stepwellis a unique Hindu 'water building‘. · The stepwell was built in 1499 by Muslim king Mohammed Begda for Queen Rani Roopba. · The step well or 'Vav', as it is called in Gujarati, is intricately carved and is five stories in depth.
· To the semi arid regions of Gujarat as they provided basic water needs for drinking, washing and bathing.
· These wells were also venues for colorful festivals and sacred rituals.
Built in sand stone in Indo-Islamic architectural style, the Adalaj stepwell is five stories deep.
· It is octagonal (8-sided polygon) in plan at the top, built on intricately carved large number of pillars.
· Each floor is spacious enough to provide for people to congregate.
· It was dug deep to access ground water at that level, accounting for seasonal fluctuations in water level due to rainfall over the year.
· The air and light vents in the roofs at various floors and at the landing level are in the form of large openings.
· Built along a North-South axis, entrance is from the South, the three staircases are from the South, West and East directions leading to the landing.
· Four small rooms with oriel windows decorated with minutely carved brackets are provided at the landing level, at the four corners.
· At the bottom of the well is a square stepped floor in the shape of a funnel extending to the lowest plane.
· From the first story level, three staircases lead to the bottom water level of the well, which is considered a unique feature.
· The structural system is typically Indian style with traditional trabeat with horizontal beams and lintels.
· The square stepped platform is chiseled into a circular well.
· Above the square floor, columns, beams, wall and arched openings spiral around; a feature that continues to the top.
· The top part of the well, however, is a vertical space open to the sky.
· The four corners of the square are strengthened with stone beams, set at 45 degrees angle.
· Adalaj stepwell is a magnificent example of fusion of Hindu craftsmanship and the floral, geometric pattern of Islamic architecture.
· 5 stories of Adalaj well use cross beams all along their length.
· Events happened during the construction of this well are carved on the walls of the well as it was started by Hindus but decorated in a Islamic style.
· Step wells were used as meeting and resting places during summer since their cool interiors offered unbelievable respite from the scorching sun outside.
· The platform rests on 16 pillars,8 on the corners, and 2 in front of each main side for built in shrines, with doors, windows and balconies, mark the 4 corners of the platform.
· Walls of stepwell are veritable showcase of sculptures and ornamentation.
· The stepped corridor begins from this square platform.
The corridor is entirely surrounded by a1m high parapet wall with a rounded topping
· The motifs of flowers and graphics of Islamic architecture blend very well with the symbols of Hindu and Jain gods carved at various levels of the well.
· The dominant carvings on the upper floors are of elephants (3 inches (76 mm) in size, each of different design).
PICTURE CREDITS - INTERNET