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Rani-ki-Vav – The secrets of the sculptors on the step wells in Gujarat

Step wells are an architectural wonder but what is even more intriguing are the sculptors on the step wells. Rani-ki-Vav, one of the most popular step wells, is now a UNESCO world heritage site.
Times of India reports
Rani-ki-Vav was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in June this year. But there are a very few scholars who have been able to interpret the monument — archaeologist Kirit Mankodi is one among them.
He has seen the 11th century vav resurrect after being buried deep in a mound of silt in 1955. He has seen a handful of officials of Archaeological Survey of India ( ASI) arrange the sculptures in their place in these ruins through the 1960s and 1970s to the breathtaking beauty it is now.
Mankodi was at LD Museum in the city to deliver a lecture on the stepwell and spoke about the little-known features of the famed vav. "Vishnu is the primary deity of the stepwell, and the sculptures are depictions of one of his many forms. This well had seven terraces, each on a separate level, along with a large torana or ceremonial gateway that welcomed the visitor and looked beautiful in its time," says Mankodi. He adds, "The stepwell was dug deep enough to allow access to the water table of the Saraswati River." 
Another interesting sculpture here is that of a naked serpent woman, along with three owls above, and a peacock behind her legs. Mankodi also pointed to a beautifully carved statue in the middle — Vishnu reclining on the serpent Shesha, while one among the cluster of sculptures to its right depicted Ganesh and his consort. On the left are Vishnu and Lakshmi seated on Vishnu's mount Garuda.