The Dada Harir in Ahmedabad is one of the most incredible stepwells that I had the pleasure of exploring in India. Here is a quick guide to exploring the incredible 15th Century Dada Harir Stepwell in Ahmedabad, India.
Dada Harir Stepwell is a 5-story deep well supported by large stone pillars and built-in an octagonal configuration. There is also a small Mosque and a tomb here, where a household lady of the 15th Century Sultan, Mahmud Begada is buried. Visitors are free to explore this stepwell from the upper levels to the lower depths of the well.
The Dada Harir Stepwell, also known as Bai Harir Vav in Gujarati is one of the most impressive stepwells in this part of India, and in my opinion, one of the most underrated too.
I’d recommend visiting this stepwell over the more popular Adalaj stepwell. Honestly, both are very similar and since Dada Harir is within walking distance of most hotels, it’s a good choice for a short trip.
Where is the Dada Harir Stepwell in Ahmedabad?
The Dada Harir Stepwell is located approximately 5 kilometers from the banks of the Sabarmati, on the east side. It's just a few minutes' walk from the Ahmedabad Junction train station.
The best way to get to the Dada Harir Stepwell is to simply hail a Rickshaw driver or an Uber. Both should cost around 50-100 IR for the one-way trip from most areas within Ahmedabad. Since the stepwell was close to our accommodation in Ahmedabad, we decided to walk.
Dada Harir Stepwell Entry Fee
There is no entry fee to visit the Dada Harir Stepwell in Ahmedabad. Visitors are free to explore without having to pay or buy a ticket.
What to Expect at the Dada Harir Stepwell
Upon arriving at the stepwell, or "vav" as they are known in Gujarati, you are free to explore the upper levels or head straight down via the 3 large, stone staircases to the right.
The Dada Harir Stepwell has five stories, or levels in total, held up by intricately carved stone pillars. Light and air filters through large openings in many of the structure's areas. The water level will depend on the season, but the lower well section was completely dry when I visited late in the dry season.
Visitors will also find tight, spiraling staircases entered through intricate doorways on adjacent sides of the octagonal well structure. These staircases lead to the different levels of the vav where you can catch unique perspectives of this 500-year-old architectural phenomenon.
You can also visit the small Mosque on the upper level, as well as the tomb of Dhai Harir, the overseer of the stepwell construction.
We spent close to two hours exploring this unique stepwell, playing with the light, and trying to capture some unique shots.
Brief History of the Dada Harir Stepwell, Ahmedabad
Built in 1485, the Dada Harir Stepwell helped to combat Ahmedabad's seasonal water shortages. By digging into the reservoir of groundwater, 5 levels below, the Mahmud Begada Sultan could provide a more reliable source of fresh water for citizens and travelers.
Although the Dada Harir is built on Islamic-style architecture, it was interesting to find the symbols of both Hindu and Jain gods also carved into the stone structures of the stepwell,
Furthermore, this site's history was also built on the fundamental principles of accommodating travelers, as outlined by the Arabic Sanskrit on the north wall:
This holy and wholesome water; the splendid travellers' rest-house enclosed on four sides by carved and painted walls, and a grove of fruit trees with their fruit, a well, and a pool of water for the use of man and heist, were built in the reign of the Sultan of the Sultans of the age, established by the grace of God and of the faith, Abul Fath Mahmud Shah, son of Muhammad Shah, son of Ahmed Shah, son of Muhammad Shah, son of Muzaffar Shah the Sultan, may God keep his kingdom. Dated the metropolis of the kingdom the 2nd of Jamadi-ul-awwal in the 26th year of the reign.Source
I'm sure I share the same sentiment with other travelers when I say that this welcoming attitude to foreigners and travelers seems to be stronger than ever in modern Ahmedabad.
Accommodation in Ahmedabad
Ahmedabad is a big city. Whether you're visiting to see the stepwells and famous sites, or just stopping over between Mumbai and Rajasthan/Delhi, here are the two top picks.
- Where I stayed: Aaramgruh Hotel Dormitory - to be fair there's not much of a backpacker scene in Ahmedabad. However, I found this dormitory-style hotel to be excellent value at only about $6 per night for a bed. It's also fairly close to the Dada Harir Stepwell.
- Central for a stopover - Dodhia Haveli - A little more pricey than my usual budget dorm recommendations. But, this hotel is definitely worth it if you're coming to Ahmedabad for a stopover by bus or train. It's located very close to the Ahmedabad Junction train station and offers holds reviews and offers spacious, clean rooms.
More Dada Harir Stepwell Photos
Here are some more photos of the Dada Harir Stepwell that I captured on my visit.
More Travel Guides and Blogs for your Travels in India
I hope that this quick guide has been useful for planning your visit to the Dada Harir Stepwell in Ahmedabad (Bai Harir Vav). For more travel guides and articles tailored to independent backpackers and adventure travelers, take a pick from the list below.