India’s temples and palaces are well documented, but these underground archaeological treasures seem to have been overlooked by most scholarly histories.

The stepwell transforms the path to water into a ritualistic pilgrimage and, through the establishment of an elaborate architectural structure, the daily chore of fetching water is turned into a spiritual experience.  The stepped tank, about three meters deep, into which water was fed by a series of stone channels is an example of expert engineering techniques developed several centuries ago.

According to noted architect Charles Correa, “Stepwells are elaborate architectural constructions built within the earth’s surface. They make the path down to the water a ritualistic pilgrimage, a matter of profound metaphysical meaning considering water is seen as the giver of life.”

Karnataka has some splendid specimens of stepwells. The remarkable Pushkarni tank, or stepwell, made of green stone, has been excavated in the ruined city of Hampi in the mid-1980s. It has four symmetrical sides. Water was supplied to it through a stone aqueduct. This step well was originally a part of the palace complex, Hazara Rama Temple - the royal temple reserved for ceremonial use. Lakkundi, the ancient city in Gadag district is known for its stepwells built with canopied niches.(on page 1). Most of the wells are carved with tiny Shiva shrines in the form of niches into the walls. These niches have Shiva lingas enshrined in them. There are numerous ancient wells in Lakkundi, of which the Chateer Bavi, Kanne Bavi and Musukina Bavi are popular for their carvings architectural beauty.
Michael Patrao

Rural sanitation scheme by Bank
The Karnataka Vikas Grameena Bank, a government owned bank, has decided to bring about a change in rural sanitation. It intends to ensure that each house in the village has a toilet. The state government has put in place a special scheme for building  toilets in villages. But lack of people’s participation and official apathy are two important reasons for failure in the proper implementation of the scheme.

The Bank has evolved an easy loan scheme for construction of toilets wherein it loans Rs 7,600 with a repayment period of ten years.  This people friendly scheme floated by the Bank has already helped many villagers, especially the women. A case in point is that of Gunji, a backward village in Belgaum district. Out of the 180 odd houses, 165 houses have opted to have their own bath and toilet. The Karnataka Vikas Grameena Bank operates in nine districts of the state with a network of 422 branches, covering nearly 2090 villages. Statistics revealed by General Manager Vasudev Kalkundri show the Bank has been instrumental in building more than 10,000 toilets.

In several places in the state, the Panchayats have joined hands with the Bank, easing the pressure on the Bank to some extent. The Government’s ‘Grama Nirmal Yojana’ has thus received an impetus with the participation of the Bank and is being implemented with renewed gusto.  In the coming days, we can definitely hope to see some clean villages.
Na Karanth Peraje

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