Rani ki Vav, a queen’s stepwell, located in north Gujarat town of Patan, may soon find itself on the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. Along with it, the Great Himalayan National Park in Himachal Pradesh is also expected to find place in the coveted list.
The 11th century Rani ki Vav and and Great Himalayan National Park have been nominated for the ongoing 38th World Heritage Session at Qatar under the cultural and natural heritage categories respectively. The final result will be known on Friday, sources in the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) said.
The stepwell has been recognised as “an exceptional example of utilising ground water resources in a single component and water management system as it illustrates the exceptional capacity to break large built spaces into smaller volumes following ideal aesthetic proportions,” the sources added.
The stepwell is described as belonging to a unique category of Indian subterranean structure and marks the zenith in the evolution of stepwells in India. It is a particularly large and complex example of a stepwell with seven storeys of ornate panels of sculptures representing Maru-Gurjara architecture, added sources.
“Inclusion of a site in the list of World Heritage is the recognition of its outstanding universal values. This would enable both these sites to find place in the international tourism map,” a source said.
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According to the Gujarat Tourism website, Rani Udayamati commissioned the stepwell in 1063 AD in memory of her husband King Bhimdev I of the Solanki dynasty. The stepwell was later flooded by the nearby Saraswati River and silted over until the late 1980s, when it was excavated by the ASI with the carvings found in pristine condition. It is considered the queen among stepwells in India.
Apart from serving as source of water and socialising, these wells also held great spiritual significance. ASI, Historic Scotland and CyArk are digitally documenting the stepwell under the project Scottish Ten.
The Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh was declared National Park in 1999. Currently there are 30 World Heritage properties in India, of which 24 are cultural properties, while six fall under the natural category.