Rani Ki Vav is an 11th-century-stepwell situated in the town of Patan in Gujarat, India, on the banks of the Saraswati River. The stepwell is said to have been constructed by Udayamati, the widowed Queen of Bhimdev I (AD 1022 to 1063), around 1050 AD in memory of the king. Bhimdev I was the son of Mularaja, the founder of the Solanki dynasty of Anahilwada Patan. The stepwell was later flooded by the nearby Saraswati river and silted over until the late 1980s, when it was excavated by archeologists. When restored, the stepwell’s magnificent carvings were found in pristine condition.
Stepwells are a distinctive form of subterranean water resource and storage systems on the Indian subcontinent, and have been constructed since the 3rd millennium BC. They evolved over time from what was basically a pit in sandy soil towards elaborate multi-storey works of art and architecture. Rani-ki-Vav was built at a period when craftsmen were at the height of their stepwell construction ability. The Maru-Gurjara architectural style reflect mastery of this complex technique and great beauty of detail and proportions. Befitting its name, the Rani-Ki-Vav is now considered to be the queen among step wells of India. Chand Baori, in Rajasthan, is another exceptional example of this technology.