If you take the S G Highway from Ahmedabad to Gandhinagar, you’ll get to Adalaj a few kilometres from Gandhinagar. Take a right from the highway at the Adalaj signal, follow the road signs, and in a few minutes you will enter the beautiful and perhaps the best known step well in India, the Adalaj ni vav. In terms of beauty and grandeur, it gives the Rani ki vav in Patan a good run for its money; in terms of fame, it probably beats the Patan step well – most of us would have seen the TV commercial for Gujarat Tourism, featuring Amitabh Bachchan at the Adalaj step well.
This is perhaps the most visited monument in or near Ahmedabad. On each of my six visits, I’ve found at least fifty visitors each time – students from an art college taking photographs and sketching details of the beautiful carvings; tourists taking pics and selfies; young swains taking pictures of the bashful objects of their affections posing against a wall or a column; other young swains and the equally bashful objects of their affections trying to find a small place in the shade for exchanging a few words far from the madding crowd; and staff cleaning up the place and removing offending articles like bags of chips, water bottles, chocolate and biscuit wraps, etc.
Indeed one of the most noticeable things about this well is how clean it has been kept. The nets on top of the well and the entrance make sure that we can’t throw garbage into the water. The many beauties exposed by the careful restoration work on the magnificent carvings and sculpture have probably been reproduced in many coffee-table books, and they look as fresh as if they were completely yesterday.
Built in 1,499 CE, the monument looks perhaps as beautiful even after half a millenia.