Nearing·Gandhinagar now, we come across this extraordinary beautiful structure of a step-well at Adalaj village. Its historical architecture, its carved pillars and niches present it as the best example of the skill of Gujarat artists.
In these structures again the utility is made to join hands with artistic sense. As it is art has been used in religious places freely, but even for the public places like wells, in these cases step-wells, the structures are not just built and left stranded. They are built with great sense of beauty besides utility too. To descend into the deep well, slightly obliquely turned steps become as wide as possible. That is why there is considerable distance between the entrance and the well. This distance is then filled by several stories and one story is also made above the ground level to indicate its presence and to allow the women to take rest here as they return with full water vessels. At the entrance various 'Mandipika' and raised platforms are constructed, the former being given shade with ceilings. There is no other kind of construction here usually, but at 'vavs' like this one has two walls and pillars of stone that are full of beautiful carvings and sculpted designs. A 'vav' or step-well is a unique architectural design, and there are several of them found on the roads of Gujarat, The wealthy merchants used to get these built on major trade routes and near the cities as a part of their charity work, that mainly served the merchants and others who traveled these trade routes regularly and needed the water and rest during long travels for their business trips. Most of the vavs however have by now got destroyed or filled up or buried, and some are unusable now due to neglect and non-use about ahundred vavs still exist in Gujarat
The beauty of the Adalaj ni Vav has made the Gujarat Govt. take great care of it and also some facilities for the visitors are made available. This vav, situated at a distance of about 18km from Ahmedabad, was built by Rudabai in the memory of her husband Virsinh in VS 1499. This vav has five stories and three gates to enter it. Upon entry we get one Mandap with an eight-sided dome that has however by now broken down. The pillars are in good condition though. On both sides of the steps there are balconies with beautiful carvings. The rows of beautifully caved elephants mark the levels and provide illusion of mobility. There are several decorated 'gokh' or niches. The structure is about 84 m long. An inscription in Sanskrit provides with the information about the date of its construction etc.
Gujarat boasts of about a 100 surviving step-wells. Some of these have been deliberately closed off, but a few are still very presentable and in good condition. Among these is Dada Hari ni Vav at Asarva which is also well-known and is as old as the Adalaj ni Vav. It is also· 80m. in length, has 5 meter tall eight-sided pillars of the Mandap, while the squared well is 9 meters wide Each of its hall has a niche. This vav's structure, however. is not as artistic as the vav at Adalaj.
The vav at Isanpur is made of bricks, the vav at the back of Madhavlal Boarding at Shahibaug, and even the vavs constructed at the instance of the litterateur Keshav Harshad Dhruv in recent times are noteworthy.