Thirsty Vijayapura reaches into ancient bawadis

A little over two months ago, the historic Taj bawadi (huge open wells), built during the Adil Shahi era (1490-1686) in Vijayapura in Karnataka was a filthy cesspool, with the polluted water unfit for any use.

Today the 223 ft wide structure has potable water, with hundreds of springs injecting fresh water into it.

First ever effort

Built in 1620 in the name of Taj Sultana, the queen of Ibrahim Adil Shah-II, the Taj bawadi is one of 21 such open wells being revived by the district administration in a first ever attempt at cleaning and desilting them.

Some of the others being revived are the Chanda Bawadi, Sandal Bawadi, Ibrahimpur Bawadi, Pethi Bawadi and the Gunnapur Bawadi.

Standing on the edge of the water body with several other onlookers, 70-year-old Nazir Ahmed Kaladgi is mesmerised.

“We had heard several stories of this giant bawadi. But no one had seen its depth because it never dried up and was full of filthy water,” he said.

Vijayapura District in-charge Minister M. B. Patil has mobilised the ₹8.5 crore requried for the revival project from private firms under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

Thirsty Vijayapura reaches into ancient bawadis

Dr Rajendra Singh, noted water conservationist, also lauded the work on reviving the water source during his recent visit.

Historian Abdul Ghani Imaratwale says the ancient city of Bijapur (now Vijayapura) has been known for its dry and arid and consequent frequent droughts. The Adil Shahi kingdom had therefore, developed a series of intricately designed bawadis to supply water to the city.

Dr Imaratwale said these bawadis had remained a major source of water for decades, meeting the needs of the around nine lakh people said to have been living in Vijayapura then.

The historian says it is surprising to see the bawadis filled with water though they are only between 20 to 60 feet deep when borewells in the area have to go down to a depth of 300 feet to hit water.

Thirsty Vijayapura reaches into ancient bawadis

Explaining the significance of the bawadis during the Adil Shahi era, veteran Vijayapura scholar and historian Krishna Kolhar Kulkarni, said according a British survey conducted in 1850, the city had around 700 stepless bawadies and some 340 bawadis with steps.

After the fall of the Adil Shahi dynasty these bawadis fell into disuse and soon became dump sites.

“We still have about 60 bawadis in the city which can be revived,” Dr Kulkarni said.

Harsha Shetty, Commissioner of the Vijayapura City Corporation, which is implementing the task, said reviving the ancient open wells was a mammoth task as they had accumulated huge quantities of silt and garbage over decades.

Thirsty Vijayapura reaches into ancient bawadis

“On an average, it took us between 15 and 20 days to clean smaller bawadis. The Taj Bawadi, the biggest one, took almost two months, mainly because of the countless springs that kept filling the bawadi quickly,” he said.

“We also plan to install pump sets to draw water and RO plants so that people could use water, he added. While the total water need of the city is around 65 million liters/day, the bawadis would provide at least 5 MLDs, he said.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2021 8:58:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/thirsty-vijayapura-reaches-into-ancient-bawadis/article19198527.ece

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