|Taj Bawadi, Bijapur (Vijayapura) Oddroad|
The Indian rulers, be they Sultans or Maharajahs centuries ago, rulered their states with vision and foresight. They gave much importance to public works, in particular, supply of potable water to the citizens. They built numerous lakes, water tanks with network of inter-linking canals covering vast land in the rain-fed regions. What about dry areas or areas where drought condition was a threat to the people? How did the rulers manage the regions where the availability of water was poor for agriculture and daily needs? They adopted an ingenious methods to tap and store water. They built what are called bawadis which served effectively in the dry and semi arid areas. Bawadis are big open wells with steps or with out steps.
Vijayapura (previously Bijapur) in Karnataka state has innumerable bawadis that were built by the rulers of the Adil Shahi dynasty. (1490-16860. According to historian Krishna Kolhar Kulkarni, the city and its surroundings had about 700 stepless wells and 340 bawadis with steps. These historical bawadis, after the fall of Adil Shah dynasty fell into disuse and later became garbage dump sites.
|hoparoundindia.comChand Bawadi, Bijapur.|
Until recently, these step wells were in a state of neglect. Credit goes to state minister M.P. Patil, who is in charge of Vijayapura district. He evinced keen interest to revive these ancient wells and mobilised eight crore rupees for the revival project He wanted to revive 21 huge wells back to old glory.
It is estimated that these huge water wells could store enough water to take care the needs of roughly one million people of the city of Bijapur in the 17th century. Among the bawadis built by the Adil Shahi kings, mention may be made of the bawadis such as - Taj Bawadi, Chand Bawadi, Masa Bawadi, Ilalkhan Bawadi, Nawab Bawadi, etc. Of these, Taj and Chand Bawadi are quite well-known and probably the biggest. The depth of the open wells is between 20 to 60 wells while that of Taj bawadi is around 100 feet.
|Vijapura (Bijapur) map. Maps of India|
Built in 1620 on the orders of Ibrahim Adil Shah II, in memory of his queen Taj Sultana, Taj Bawadi is the biggest one, flanked by two octagonal towers, and huge domes that surround the square shaped well. A few months ago this huge Taj bawadi - open well was an eye-sore - almost like a stinking filthy cesspool. Its polluted water was unfit for any use. To day, the story is different; it is rebuilt and restored and it supplies good quality, potable water with hundreds of springs injecting fresh water into it.The Taj bawadi is one of the 21 open wells being revived by the district administration. Cleaning and desilting them was already under taken by them The other bawadis, including Gunnapur and Pathi bawadis are being repaired and revived by the administration.
|Taj Bawadi, Bijapur Alamy|
How come the city of Vijayapura (Bijapur) has so many open deep wells. Historian Abdul Gani Imratwale is of the opinion that Bijapur in the past centuries frequently experienced drought conditions as it was located in a semi-arid region. So, it dawned upon the Adil Shah kings to build numerous open wells to supply water to the city. For decades these wells supplied potable water to the city centuries ago as predicted by the ruler.
According to the city commissioner, desilting and cleaning the bawadis is a tough and time-consuming job and it takes 15 to 20 days to clean the small ones. There are 60 bawadis near the city and they need to be cleaned soon to put them to proper use use. The city has a plan to install pump sets and also RO system to meet the people's needs. The city of Vijayapura needs 65 million liters of water a day and the bawadis, if fully revived, would cover 5 MLDs.
01. In 1981-82, attempts were made to desilt the tank and supply water to the residents from Taj Bawadi. Unfortunately, the project did not see the light since the water in the well was not fit for drinking.
02. There are underground tunnels built between these wells and they ensured steady supply of water to all pockets of the city.
03. Built by Ali Adil Shah in 1579 and named in memory of his queen Chandbibi, Chand bawadi is yet another famous open well. Unlike Taj Bawadi, the premises of Chand Bawadi are better taken care of. "If these bawadis are cleaned, and desilted, they would help solve the district's drinking water problem," said Krishna Kolharkulkarni, another historian.