It was the last day of the battle, Rana Veer Singh the king of the Vaghela dynasty popularly known as Rana was fighting hard to save his small kingdom in Western Coast of Ancient India. He had already lost most of his army and putting a brave face against Mohammed Begda the Muslim ruler of the nearby kingdom.
Begda finally killed him and took possession of Rana’s kingdom. The news of Rana’s death was conveyed to his beautiful wife Rani Roodabai. She immediately wanted to perform Sati (A practice among the Hindus, those days in which a widow sacrifices herself by sitting atop her deceased husband’s funeral pyre).
She was forced to give up the idea, considering the largest interest of the people of her kingdom and more than that she wanted to see the completion of the water well which Rana had just started to build to ease the misery of his people in that semi-arid region where their only source of water is from the Rain God.
Rana had a big vision, and he wanted to permanently stop the suffering of his people due to water scarcity. He wanted one water well in the centre of his small kingdom that will have water throughout the year and will serve anyone who needed water at any time. Water was more than just water for him, it was God. He wanted to build a well, like a temple where people can congregate to exchange wishes, simply talk to each other every day and celebrate. It was designed to be a place with a positive vibration and its walls and pillars was to be embellished and decorated with sculptures.
As the work was in progress, the war erupted and Rana died. Roodabai wanted the water well, constructed for the benefit of the people of the generations to come. Begda, attracted by the beauty of Roodabai has been proposing to marry her from the day he met after the war and waiting patiently for her to accept. After, a deep thought she agreed to the marriage proposal with one condition that the construction of Rana’s well to be completed first.
Rejoiced Begda put his entire army into action and the water well was constructed in record time with all sincerity and grandeur incorporating all the original design of Solanki architectural style blended with that of some Islamic tradition.
It was completed in all aspects and was close to the inauguration date. Roodabai visited to have a look as she strongly believed through her Rana will be seeing all of it himself. There she goes, it was a step well, one has to descend the steps to fetch the water. It was five stories deep and each level had enough space for people to make use of and for the travellers to spend their nights.
The well was deep enough to tap the ground water and to collect the rain water from certain parts of the small kingdom and store it. It has enough natural light and ventilation to comfort the large gathering of people at any point time. Even in a hot sunny day, one could feel the temperature inside was at least five-degree cooler than that of outside.
Though, the top was open to the sky the design was such that it avoided the direct sunlight on the water inside thus preventing the evaporation.
She was very happy that the Step well was constructed as per husbands wish and now the people of her kingdom will have water for ever. The Inauguration ceremony for the well was planned, and people of the kingdom were in celebration mood and paying tributes to their deceased king Rana.
Then suddenly that incident happened. Having accomplished the Rana’s wish and unwilling to marry King Begda, Roodabai decided to end her life. She just went around the stepwell for one last time with her prayers, thanked King Begda silently from her heart and jumped into the well to end her life, leaving the source of water for generations to come.
King Begda was touched and moved by the acts of Roodabai. He killed all the Masons who built the stepwell so that none could build a replica of that stepwell.
Water is life and she gave it to many. Then she should be a GOD isn’t? If yes, let us pray to her for the water needs of this world.