How Was Adalaj Ni Vav Built, 500 Years Ago?


This is an example of an architect’s quick sketch of Adalaz Ni Vav and is an representative  example of work the students would do at each site we visited.  When they started many of them felt inadequate but their skills improved with practice and some have more than one sketch book to remember all the architecture they were exposed to  in India!

I have tried not to bore my readers with too much architecture, but these step-wells are so amazing.  They are built of sandstone and use the traditional interlocking system to keep the wells in place. The details reflect both Hindu and Islamic influence, though there is more use of  Hindu elements.  Interesting because the ruler and his wife who started this project and the man who finished it were Mogul or Muslim.  The approach from three directions is by flights of stairs. The stairs lead to a  court with an octagonal opening. Ornate oriel windows accentuate each of the four corners of  the landing.  This is where the woman wanted their pictures taken, wearing my hat. 712px-Adalaj_Stepwell_II


I found this architect’s drawing on the net.

This is an oriel window built in the 16th century  in London.


According to Architecture,  oriel windows  are defined as windows originating  as a kind of porch. They are window openings that don’t extend to the ground but are supported by brackets.

A series of steps descend from here for five stories, forming a  long vertical corridor to the kund (tank) and main well shaft. The beams, columns, and brackets on each level are covered with geometric , animal or floral stone cut designs. The third floor  shows a frieze of Krishna, the Hindu trinity, and women churning buttermilk.

images (58)

The entrance landing. . . .

images (34)

Stairs . . . .  .

The well. . . . .  . .


The well is filled during monsoon as there is little if any other  precipitation during the preceding  months.  We were in India for 4 months, and only experienced a few minutes of drizzle during all that time.


Hindu decoration. . . . . .


Mogul (Muslim) decorations. . . .


Actor and star Amitabh Bachchan planning the Breathe a Bit of Gujarat tourist commercials .   I will post it another time!


Adalaj Ni Vav is one of the most photographed and visited sites in all of Gujarat.  It is a must see if you are in Ahmedabad.


Namaste. . . . This Is Incredible India!

About annetbell

I am a retired elementary teacher, well seasoned world traveler,new blogger, grandmother, and a new enthusiastic discoverer of the wonderfully complex country of India. Anne
This entry was posted in Architecture, India, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to How Was Adalaj Ni Vav Built, 500 Years Ago?

  1. A.H. says:

    You saw Amitabh Bachchan! That is beyond cool!
    Beautiful photos, btw! The intricate carvings are amazing!


  2. Adeena says:

    Amazing architecture.
    Namaste 🙂


  3. OyiaBrown says:

    Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.


  4. Amazing pictures 🙂


  5. I really love working with ny hands since i wqs a kid ive
    wanted to do construction …. and the time has come to where im going to school for carpentry
    but school is out and i really want to improve my skills for the summer and i woukd loooovvvveee.
    To gwt into an apprenticship with a contractor to
    help build a hoise or anything!.


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  8. SanyaChopra says:

    Hello, I am an architecture, currently working on my thesis where I am trying to understand interaction spaces and urban voids. If you do have any interesting observations about Adalaj or details/photographs/sketches, it would really help me. Thanks, Sanya

    Liked by 1 person

    • annetbell says:

      I am afraid I don’t have drawings or unusual photos. I loved this step well and that it was built by the queen for the women to ease their burdens. My husband is an architect and we were with architecture students. The American architects all know of Gujurati step wells and Adalaj is the jewel in the crown! Good luck!


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