Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Toor Ji Ka Jhalra, Jodhpur, India - an ancient step well

Toor Ji Ka Jhalra, Jodhpur,
In the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan that contain  arid semi-arid areas, conserving water is important for the communities. To save and store water, centuries ago the rulers built step wells. They are mostly confined to western India, there are many in Pakistan as well. They are nothing but ponds in which the water is reached by descending a set of steps to the water level. Water level may vary among places, depending on the rain and ground water table.

Originating from the Indian subcontinent, they may be a big structure - multi-storied with a water wheel. The bullock is used to   raise the well water  through the water wheel to the first or second floor. These step wells are known for the geometric design of steps all around and  there are  highly embellished small halls below the ground  near the water level. 

There are many types of  storage and irrigation tanks built with the main purpose to  deal with water shortages due to  seasonal fluctuations in water availability. The builders dug trenches deep into the earth and  lined the walls of these trenches with blocks of stone, without mortar. They set  stairs going  down to the water with specified patterns. The purpose is utilitarian to get dependable water year round. They built the  surviving step wells in such a way, many of them provided water and also shelter where the people could relax and exchange pleasantries.  The advantage is  the base of the well provided relief from daytime heat and radiation, and  the covered hall served as  a place for social gatherings and religious ceremonies.  yet another interesting aspect is down below, the rate of evaporation is far less than at higher levels. It means considerable savings of water. More frequently the visitors were women because  they were the ones who collected the water from the step wells.
Toor Ji Ka Jhalra, Jodhpur.
Toor Ji Ka Jhalra (also calledToor Ji Ki Baori), as it is locally called, is an amazing step well. It is believed to be built in the 6th century AD (?). It is said prior to 1966 there were as many as 50 beautiful step wells near Jodhpur and unfortunately many of them were either damaged or destroyed and turned into huge mounds of trash during the construction of  water canals and pipe lines under the Indira Gandhi canal project  to serve the Jodhpur city. It shows the callous attitude of our officials who failed to protect such wonderful ancient monuments. A great loss to our posterity!! They could have successfully implemented this project by proper planing and by choosing an alternative way without disturbing these ancient step wells.   
The presence of some temples in the vicinity and their link with the step well helped Toor Ji Ka Jhalra survive. The local temples, it is said, use the  baori for religious ceremonies. 
Toor Ji Ka Jhalra, Jodhpur.
The locals here call the baori as “Jahlara”. As one could see fish in the baori, one can take it for certain that Toor Ji Ka Jhalra has clean water.  The other attractions in Jodhpur are places like  Mehrangarh Fort, Jaswant Thada and  Umaid Bhawan. They will never disappoint you.