The form of the stepwell—a grand staircase leading to the bottom of a well cylinder, with ornamented colonnades and terraces on each level—remained the same, as did its function as a water source, cool gathering place, and site for rituals. In these later wells, Hindu statuary was replaced with geometric and floral flourishes and inscriptions characteristic of Islamic architecture. Rudabai’s Vav, built in 1499, is now part of a public park in the quiet town of Adalaj, 11 miles north of the traditional Muslim capital at Ahmedabad. Dada Hari Vav was constructed just two years later and lies deep within Ahmedabad’s old city. Both still serve as places to socialize, but neither regularly contains water—the water table in Gujarat has long since been drawn down to critically low levels.
The intricacies involved in constructing these beautiful wells is amazingly brilliant.