About 18 kms away from Ahmedabad, Gujarat,
there is a stepwell called Adalaj Ni Vav.
It is the region’s biggest tourist attraction.
An impressive fact about this 15.5-metre deep well is
that it’s a splendid melange of Hindu, Jain and Islamic architecture.
You know, what’s interesting about this well?
This well is a testimony to an intriguing love story.
India, 15th Century.
Rana Veer Singh ruled the kingdom of Dandai,
which was also known as Adalaj.
One of the successors of the Vaghela dynasty,
Rana Veer Singh was a brave king
who loved his subjects as much as he loved his wife, Rani Roopba.
They were made for each other.
Because Rani Roopba was not just a beautiful woman,
but she was also valiant.
They loved and respected each other immensely.
Rani Roopba, much like her husband, was dedicated to her subjects
and considered them her family.
A few years in, the kingdom was hit with a severe drought.
The king had been dealing with water shortage in the region,
but this time, there were signs that it would result in a famine.
Now the king grew anxious.
After much deliberation, he found a solution to the problem.
Rana Veer Singh began the construction of an enormous well
that was going to be 15.5 metres deep
and would have stairs along the sides for accessibility.
For its time, the well would have been an incredible innovation.
However, before the well could be finished,
Rana Veer Singh was besieged with another problem.
Sultan Mahmud Begada of the neighbouring kingdom
launched an attack on Dandai.
Rana Veer Singh prepared his army overnight for the war,
but the attackers had already done the damage.
Rana Veer Singh’s army fought valiantly,
but they ultimately lost the war.
And Rana Veer Singh lost his life while defending his kingdom.
After usurping Rana Veer Singh’s kingdom,
Mahmud Begada set his sights on Rani Roopba.
Sultan Begada fell for Rani Roopba’s beauty in an instant.
He wished to make Roopba his queen.
Back in those days, the custom of Sati was much more prevalent,
especially among the Kshatriyas.
Rani Roopba was a proud woman
who was entirely devoted to Rana Veer Singh.
Rani Roopba decided to perform Sati.
Before she could proceed, Mahmud Begada stopped her
and offered her a marriage proposal.
Rani Roopba wished to complete her husband’s final undertaking
and bring relief to her people.
She accepted the sultan’s proposal quite reluctantly,
but on the condition that Sultan Begada would have to finish
constructing the well Rana Veer Singh had sanctioned.
Sultan Begada could see nothing beyond Rani Roopba’s beauty.
He promptly agreed to the condition,
and resumed construction of the well.
By compelling the labourers to work day and night
and giving them a financial incentive,
the sultan had the reservoir constructed ahead of time.
Sultan Begada was so impressed by the well’s style and structure
that he asked the mason if he could build another well of that kind.
When the mason answered in the affirmative,
Sultan Begada sentenced him to death.
He simply didn’t want anyone else to build such an exquisite well.
After keeping his end of the bargain,
Mahmud Begada reminded Rani Roopba of her promise.
The queen said to him that as per tradition,
once the local sages and saints bathe in the well
and conduct the inaugural rituals,
she would marry Sultan Begada.
Soon they started performing auspicious rituals.
Sultan Begada waited eagerly,
unaware that Queen Roopba’s mission was accomplished.
As soon as the well was inaugurated,
she jumped into the well and sacrificed her life.
Loyalty is the measure of true love.
Rana Veer Singh and Rani Roopba’s love story is tragic,
but also a lesson in ultimate fidelity.
Rani Roopba always wanted to be Rana Veer Singh’s partner.
They say that Rani Roopba believed
she would be united with her husband in heaven.
Her love for Rana Veer Singh lasted all her life, and also in death.
Thereupon, their love story has endured even today
and maybe, it will, forever.
No one can decide how, when or where they fall in love or with whom.
Here, a king fell in love with a courtesan.
Their union caused an uproar in their respective communities.
This is the story of the Sikh empire ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh,
and Moran Sarkar.