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The mighty Jhalas became a formidable force in the Saurashtra region by the late 11th century and formed seats of power at Santalpur, Halvad and Kankavati. They established the capital city of Dhrangadhra in the mid-18th century which eventually became a princely state till Independence.
Dhrangadhra has been of tremendous interest to historians, archaeologists and geologists for years. A number of studies and excavations have revealed the existence of an ancient civilization dating back to the Harappan Period. The land is blessed with some of the finest stone in west India.
Matri Vav, a 15th century stepwell built by Raj Sahib Bhimsinhji of the princely state of Dhrangadhra in honour of his mother, Leela Devi is considered by architects to be an excellent example of engineering of its time.
The stepwell as was the practice of that time is attached to a tank which allowed for abundant supply of water throughout the year. The traditional elements of a stepwell at ground level are absent however, as the stepwell is built entirely underground owing to the prevailing climatic conditions, the toda is visible only through the openings that are now covered to protect the structure. The various levels of the stepwell leading to the lowest is richly embellished with beautiful carvings, niches, brackets and sculptures.
This stepwell is dedicated to Matri Devi who has been installed in the lowest level. There are shrines dedicated to Matreshwar and Koteshwar Mahadev as well.
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