Prime Minister Narendra Modi was all praise for the Nizam-era stepwell at Bansilalpet during his Mann Ki Baat programme on Sunday.
Lauding the special efforts with respect yo water conservation and groundwater preservation in the country, Mr. Modi said the contribution of civil society has helped restore the past glory of the well, which was a source of drinking water for nearby areas for several years. But subsequently, it became a dumping yard. He also lauded a similar noble work taken up voluntarily in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.
The stepwell in Bansilalpet was also one of the sources of water for Gandhi Hospital. But, it was abandoned in the early 80s after some people died by suicide there. The efforts at restoring it started when an idea to turn it into a parking lot emerged. Hundreds of tonnes of debris was removed from the 60 feet deep well during the clean-up.
The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation deployed earthmovers to clean it up and the debris that was removed included building waste, film reels, plastic, discarded furniture, used tyres and electrical waste. The stone gallery on the right side of the entrance collapsed and scaffoldings were erected on the left gallery. At a higher level, the corbels show horses and coiled snakes.
The well was located between Nalla Pochamma and Yerra Pochamma temples and water from this well was used for the ablution of the goddesses.
It had come up in the midst of a residential locality, developed by a wealthy person named Seth Bansilal to house people who had lost their properties to road widening. Bansilal developed the colony around the stepwell and that was how the locality was named after him. Some of the houses still carry the numbering pattern that was created at that time.
Even as late as 2003, the colony retained its basic structure. In January 1938, when British Viceroy Linlithgow visited Hyderabad, he made it a point to visit the Bansilalpet Model Village. Linlithgow was received by Seth Pannalal Bansilal and Seth Goverdhan Lal Bansilal, the sons of Seth Bansilal. Now the grand ceremonial entrance is a tawdry opening occupied by sundry shops selling pan, tea and snacks. The only marker is the foundation stone that was laid by a British resident on February 13, 1933.