Step by step: Narayanpet revives its cultural link with its stepwells

The project done in partnership with the local administration and Hyderabad Design Forum aims to document such lost step wells and bring them to light

By Nimisha S Pradeep  Published on  10 Oct 2021 12:03 PM GMT
Step by step: Narayanpet revives its cultural link with its stepwells

Hyderabad: The lighted steps lead down to a forgotten stepwell. Diyas and colourful bulbs adorn its four sides. While there are steps on the three sides of the stepwell, a gallery with three arches awaits you on the fourth side. Once you reach the steps closer to the water, you see small flower carvings. The clear water reflects the colours - red, yellow, pink, and blue. The music starts playing and the women start dancing joyfully around the big well.

This Dasara brought more happiness to the women of Narayanpet. Till last year, they used to perform Bathukamma at college halls but this year they danced their hearts out in their own village, around their own stepwell.

The cultural event is part of the larger vision of restoring the stepwells in Narayanpet district. Creating an emotional connect with the water body is the key, believes Kalpana Ramesh, founder of the Rainwater Project in Hyderabad. "When people are aware and feel connected, they will safeguard it," says Kalpana.

Hari Chandana, the collector of Narayanpet, says, "Earlier, wells used to be the centre of all domestic chores. But now people are depending less on wells for water and hence the cultural link with wells is getting reduced. Our aim is to revive this link."

There are over 45 stepwells in Narayanpet. "We are aiming for a step-by-step restoration," says Hari Chandana. In the first phase, the project is working on five-six stepwells simultaneously.

The project, launched in partnership with the local administration and Hyderabad Design Forum, aims to document such lost stepwells and bring them to light so that the people and the authorities are aware of their existence.

Kalpana and her team went a step ahead and thought of ways to clean and restore these wells. She believes that such efforts can create healthier catchment areas for rainwater. "If proper channels and storage spaces are not created for rainwater, it will lead to urban floods," says Kalpana. She recalls how a restored well in Kondapur could have helped prevent floods during the last monsoon.

Another highlight of the project is that it involves the community living around the stepwell. This will ensure the future preservation of these wells. With the first phase of cleaning completed, Baram Baavi is now the host for the evening cultural programmes during this festive season.

In the second phase of the project, the restoration work of the gallery, including lime plastering of the floors and roof of the gallery, will be taken up.

The restoration of these stepwells also ensure that the groundwater is recharged regularly.

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