VII SEM, B.ARCH
Adalaj Vav or Stepwell is
situated on a caravan route
from Ahmedabad to
Patan, the then capital of
Gujarat and 18 kms. north of
Ahmedabad in Gandhinagar
district in Adalaj village.
Built in 1499 A.D. by Queen
Rudabai, it is an interesting fusion
of Hindu and Islamic architectural
styles peculiar to the Sultanate
regime in Gujarat.
This style later came to be identified
as Indo-Saracenic architecture.
The 'Vav' is laid out in the northsouth direction where the well is in
the north and the entrance in the
south and has a total length of 75.3
• Showing all the 5
reaching the well.
• Showing the well in
north direction and
entrance in the
At the stepwell, the only visible
clue at ground level is the pair of
pilasters flanking a wide flight of
These become an inviting portal to
climb the steps leading to a
The plinth platform then leads you
through the descending steps and
The first flight of steps descends to a
sq. platform with an octagonal
frame, which was once a dome base.
Surrounded on the 3 sides by the
inclined planes of rising steps the
node leaves one side open to
Although, a linear symmetrical
organization of elements along the
horizontal axis, the visual references
continuously change owing to an
inclined movement at every step.
Each steps reveals only the next
while the subsequent flights of steps
and water remain concealed by
platforms from the cone of vision.
At Adalaj, the shoring wall edges
have plaques that depict water
The freeze panel over the beam
depicts the churning of the
liquid while at the base of the
well is carved the motifs of fish.
This as against the statuette of
Ganesha, located at the top rim
level of the well that marks the
start of the journey.
Portals created by trabeated columns and
beam construction to shore the sidewalls
retaining the earth are the key elements.
The stone column and beam provide the
visual frames, which enhance the source of
depth, by providing an intermediate visual
With such changing
visual frames the descent
of 5 floors brings
enface the actual
As the journey terminates, steps
flank the water on all 4 sides
making the well the notional
centre and the focus that
connects vertically up to sky and
down to water well.
To a Hindu, step wells have 2
One of purification in holy water and
The association of ‘PATAL LOK’, one
of the 3 domains of the world, apart
from earth and sky.
Water reflects the sky and sunlight
to bring together the bi-unity of the
Water and fire as notional opposites
that co-exist as counter references
to each other.
The total descent at Adalaj is of 5
floors, At the 1st level it begins with the
ground and sky as the basic references
while as one descends further, walls
begin to surface changing one’s
perception of the degree of enclosure.
The 1st few levels still have reference to the
sky through an aperture, while the
subsequent lower levels become further
enclosed with only walls remaining in the
cone of vision.
The perception of enclosure is further
reinforced by the decreasing intensity of light.
The brightness of light subdues as one
progresses deeper making the space
progressively vertical, cosier and confined
The timelessness is attributed to the freshness offered by the
variation of visual frames as well as the integration of light/nature
where the sun is the constant variable as it changes position and
intensity from morning to evening through summer to
winter, ensuring that the static object changes with changing outdoor
conditions in regard to the Sun.