×
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

A Telangana template to restore historic step wells

These step wells that are hundreds of years old, and in some cases probably even thousands, had served humankind with drinking water and irrigation needs by harvesting the rainwater and also recharging the local aquifer.
Last Updated : 08 January 2024, 02:18 IST
Last Updated : 08 January 2024, 02:18 IST

Follow Us :

Comments

Hyderabad: A social enterprise led by a designer-turned-environmentalist in Hyderabad is charting a new course in restoring the most neglected historic masterpieces — step wells.

These step wells that are hundreds of years old, and in some cases probably even thousands, had served humankind with drinking water and irrigation needs by harvesting the rainwater and also recharging the local aquifer. However, many of them have now turned into dump yards.

Many of these wells also carry great architectural value. Restoration of 17th century Bansilalpet step well in Secunderabad stands as one testimony to the fusion of creating a microeconomy, community and tourism hub, rainwater harvesting and controlling urban water flooding. And it had not come easily.

“We had to convince local community groups. There was a lot of resistance from them. They were using the step well either as a dumping yard or a parking lot. They don't understand the invisible story lying underneath the step well that will ultimately help the locals. There were encroachments, too. Thankfully, after the painstaking efforts of almost a year, the Bansilalpet step well could be restored to its full glory. Now, the restored step well is a major tourist attraction. A street food vendor now makes decent money near the step well. That way we have created a microeconomy,” Kalapana Ramesh, founder of The Rainwater Project told DH.

The recharge pits created beneath this restored step well have helped the local aquifer replenish with clean water. A study conducted on 100 borewells in the vicinity of Bansilalpet showed the groundwater that was hundreds of feet beneath is now available at just 30 to 40 feet depth.

The Rainwater Project, a Hyderabad-based social enterprise with the help of the Telangana government, the non-profit Gandipet Welfare Society, using crowdfunding, and CSR funds had restored the Bansilalpet step well.

“The results are amazing. The step well is holding lakhs of litres of water, recharging groundwater aquifer, and becoming a local community and tourism hub. With the easy seep in of the water, it's also controlling the flooding in the surroundings. Until now the local aquifer was filled with a lot of black water due to the pollution caused by the garbage dumped in the step well before the restoration. Now, the vicinity gets clean and fresh groundwater,” added Kalpana Ramesh.

Now, hundreds of visitors daily visit Bansilalpet step well to witness the architectural marvel. It also has an amphitheatre, history interpretation centre, a cafeteria, a viewing gallery, cobblestone-paved surroundings, and a multi-storeyed tourist plaza. A jogging track and a lot of greenery were developed in the adjoining ground.

The Rainwater Project with the help of the Telangana government and a few corporates had taken the same template of Bansilalpet step well to other places in Telangana. Until now, The Rainwater Project has restored at least 20 step wells across Telangana. Three step wells that were restored are getting ready to be opened in a ceremony at Rashtrapati Nilayam, the winter retreat of the President of India. At least 30 more step wells are in the pipeline that are under restoration.

Photos of Bansilalpet step well in Secunderabad.

Photos of Bansilalpet step well in Secunderabad. 

Credit: Special Arrangement

“There is a lot of utility and science behind these step wells. Imagine the kind of efforts our ancestors had put in to build them in that era, hundreds and thousands of years ago. It's our bounden duty to preserve the rich cultural heritage to pass it on to our future generations. There are multiple benefits with these step wells, not just architecture finesse and value,” noted historian and archaeologist E Sivanagi Reddy told DH.

He observed that there are hundreds of such step wells that are neglected and crying for attention across Telangana and the ancient step wells in the state belonged to the 8th century Chalukyas period.

ADVERTISEMENT
Published 08 January 2024, 02:18 IST

Follow us on :

Follow Us

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT