As I walk down the steps of the vav early in the morning,
Silence broken by chirping of birds and rustling of leaves,
I’m awestruck by its beauty.
Images and sounds of all that I’ve read and heard flash before my eyes.
Yes, I can hear the sounds of the past-
I can hear the king ordering the vav to be constructed for his people he loved so dear.
Yes, it is the symbol of love and benevolence, of service and charity.
I can hear the clattering of tools carving beautifully in sandstone-
The elephants, the peacocks, the nymphs, the celestial bodies, the lotus.
Yes, it is a symbol of artisanship and toil, of intricacy and exquisiteness.
I can hear the sounds of battle between the King and the Sultan,
I can see the King fighting bravely but falling in the battlefield,
Yes, it is a symbol of valour and determination.
I can hear the Sultan approaching the widowed queen with his proposal,
The queen putting forth a condition for the stepwell to be completed.
I can hear the Sultan ordering the artisans to start with it immediately.
The well almost completed, I can now hear the Sultan approaching the queen,
Reminding her of the promise she made.
I can see and hear the queen walking down the same steps years back,
Looking around as she walked down, inspecting the details.
Yes, it is a symbol of beauty and fusion.
Satisfied on seeing her husband’s dream fulfilled,
Reaching down till the water level,
I can see her cirumbulating and offering her prayers.
Alas, I can hear the sound of splashing of water, of her jumping into the well.
Yes, it is a symbol of sacrifice and tragedy-of having loved and lost.
It is a symbol of loyalty and faithfulness.
Months pass by, I can hear the sounds of the anklets and bangles,
Of women with pots on their heads, walking down the same steps to fill water,
Chattering and jabbering,
Laughing and singing,
Chanting and praying.
Yes, it is a symbol of freedom and joy, of faith and belief, of celebration and sacredness.
I can hear the sounds of animals and people, traders and soldiers, pilgrims and travellers,
Stopping to rest in the coolness and quenching their thirst,
Satisfying their hunger with the fruits in the orchard near.
Yes, It is a symbol of peace and tranquility, of respite, relaxation and provision.
I can now see and hear the tourists and students,
Admiring it’s beauty and soaking in the story,
I can hear the music fests being held,
The sounds of the maestros echoing through the vav,
Colourful lights illuminating the walls and pillars,
Yes, it is a symbol of art and music, of amalgamation of cultures and magnificence..
It is captivating and mesmerizing, charming and stunning, alluring and fascinating.
Yes, it is a part of our heritage and definitely worth visiting.
(Photos by Shalini Sabikhi)