Fresh look & improved amenities: Newly-renovated Bansilalpet stepwell to be inaugurated tomorrow

Tucked away in the busy street of Secunderabad lies a six-layer stepwell with a capacity to store nearly 22 lakh litres of water. The 17th-century Bansilalpet stepwell has footprints of the Kakatiya dynasty and traces of the Nizam and British empires. It is also said to be an exact replica of the well in Warangal's thousand-pillar temple.

By Amrutha Kosuru  Published on  4 Dec 2022 3:00 AM GMT
Fresh look & improved amenities: Newly-renovated Bansilalpet stepwell to be inaugurated tomorrow

Hyderabad: Following conservation work, the Bansilalpet stepwell will be inaugurated by Telangana minister for municipal administration and urban development K.T Rama Rao on 5 December.

Tucked away in the busy street of Secunderabad lies a six-layer stepwell with a capacity to store nearly 22 lakh litres of water. The 17th-century Bansilalpet stepwell has footprints of the Kakatiya dynasty and traces of the Nizam and British empires. It is also said to be an exact replica of the well in Warangal's thousand-pillar temple.

"The Bansilalpet conservation work is a very carefully orchestrated work with stakeholders and exemplary support from government and leadership, together weaving a winning story, a one of its kind," said Kalpana Ramesh of The Rainwater Project.


The Rainwater Project helped conceptualise the precinct development by working with urban planners and architects.

Kalpana said each side of the new parapet wall constructed around the Bansilalpet stepwell has a story. "We did not want to take any chances with the residents. We didn't want legal hassles for the project," she said.

She recalled how a few residents were initially resistant to the restoration. "Residents had asked us to give them a parking space instead of the well. After a lot of talks, they finally understand the importance of the stepwell," Kalpana said.

The Rainwater Project has revived several stepwells in the city and state. This is the largest well they have restored in the city to date. It has signed an MoU with the state for the revival and restoration of the stepwell.




Conservation work

The revival and restoration of Bansilalpet stepwell began a year ago. The stepwell was filled with nearly 2,000 tonnes of debris. "This is 1/3rd the total amount of garbage produced by Hyderabad city on a daily basis," said Kalpana.

"It took multiple GHMC workers nearly six months to carefully remove the trash without causing any additional damage to the stepwell," said GHMC Secunderabad commissioner Srinivas Reddy. Staff employed by the Rainwater Project also worked on removing the trash.

In addition to recharging groundwater sources and borewells, Kalpana said the stepwell will mitigate flooding during monsoon. "Earlier, the trash-filled stepwell used to make the floods in low-lying areas much worse," she explained.

After removing the debris, most of the stepwell structure was intact but a few walls and steps were damaged. The damaged parts have been repaired with the same composition of lime used to build the stepwell.

Kalpana said the revival and restoration work doesn't end here. "The space needs to be maintained in the same sustainable way using the PPP (public-private partnership) model," she said.


A vibrant tourist spot

The area surrounding the stepwell has been developed as a tourist spot. The park near the stepwell has been dotted with vibrant electric lights. In addition to the heritage structure, a modern building overlooking the well has been erected. This modern structure will possibly include a quaint cafe, gallery, and more. On the other side of this building is a small garden and an amphitheater.

The narrow lane leading to Bansilalpet stepwell has been re-laid with an underground sewage system and electric lines. A parking space has also been identified just a few lanes away.

Before entering the lane, there are a few quaint shops that sell snacks. Andalu, 81, who owns one of the shops, said she is happy to see the well restored. "This is how it used to be when I was young. But for the last 40-50 years, it was a dumping yard and the smell was unbearable," she said. Andalu hopes that the restored well will fetch more customers.

"We wanted to ensure that there are all amenities and that the stepwell is clean," said Srinivas Reddy. He said that the integral point of the restoration was to involve the community in the project. "We didn't want any problems with the residents. We helped then understand the necessity of water and the need to protect heritage structures," he added.

Cover Pic: The Rainwater Project

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