I visited the Adalaj Stepwell one day as dusk arrived. It was very warm. Everything was still.
Among the things to miss in a lifetime of not being in India is the sacralization of life in its totality and in its details and the extraordinary artistic and artisanal work in which this is reflected.
Built in 1500 during the reign of a Muslim queen, Rudabai, the Adalaj stepwell has four levels built directly into the water table; now dry, this stepwell is just outside the city of Ahmedabad, Gujarat state in India.
The stepwells were secular sites and communal. Water was (is) sacred.
Vav they are called in Gujarati; and baoli in Hindi. I remember these words in languages foreign to me for only one reason: the sensuality and fondness with which they were pronounced: the words rolled around the man’s mouth and rippled his lips and made him smile after they emerged in a soft wave to reach my ear.
Circular stairs to the lowest level.
Walls decorated with abstract patterns and floral motifs.
Hard by is a mosque, perhaps just as old. Tapers are lit at the time of prayer at sundown.
This is a place to remember when people recount again the horrors of interfaith violence familiar to Ahmedabadis.