Gujarat is dotted with innumerable stepwells that offer a glimpse into the religious and social practices, cultural traditions and customs and art and architecture of that period. Though a fair number of these have either fallen into a state of disrepair or disuse, there is a spirited movement across the state by several heritage enthusiasts to extensively clean, repair and restore these ancient structures to their former splendour.
One such stepwell that has benefited from this revived interest is the centuries-old Uvarsad Vav at Uvarsad village in Gandhinagar district. This stepwell believed to be at least 350 years old if not more is a mere 5 km away from the famous Adalaj ki Vav.
According to the locals, the construction of stepwells by Hindu kings was based precisely on the tenets of the auspicious Shilpa Shastra. A harmonious infusion of decoration, simplicity, scientific calculation and spiritual potency was the foundation for these stepwells.
This east-facing stepwell sits on a high platform with a ceremonial pillar known as toda on either side. The layout comprises of the typical kutas and ardhakutas alternating each other without any intermediate landings or resting places.
The structure largely consists of stone columns and beams. The walls are of brick and lime mortar with some stone detailing in between the columns to support the structure.
The last kuta made of stone leads to the well. It would appear that this arch would remain submerged for long periods of time in a year. The upper levels of the well shaft are made of brick and lime mortar.
The well shaft goes deep into the ground and has channels around it to supply water for irrigation as well as domestic needs.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian