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  • Category: Miscellaneous

    Bawri or Vav: The best water conservation practice of ancient India

    These are our traditional water harvesting systems, which were used hundreds of years ago by our ancestors. We Indians are offspring of our great ancestors who have invented so many technologies in the past. The history is full of their inspiring inventions. In this post, I will describe only one thing i.e. "Bawri" that are prehistoric water harvesting and conservation structures and occurs mainly in dry regions like Rajasthan and Gujarat. Even in the modern era, we are still taking inspiration in designing for Rainwater harvesting and drainage systems from these age-old practices. Step-wells are also called vav in Gujarat and baoli or bawri in Rajasthan.
    The oldest step-wells were built by Buddhist monks date back to the 4th century and are located near Junagadh, Gujarat which was made by cutting a natural rock on Mount Girnar. However, Chand Baori is the deepest and largest Bawri in Rajasthan with 3,500 narrow steps built over 13 storeys.
    These are deep and narrow wells built around the reservoirs and dug in the ground, which has steps to reach down five to six storeys until it reaches the aquifer. These Bawries are designed in such a way so that water losses through evaporation from the deep well are minimum and also water remains fresh for a long time because sun rays cannot be reached to water. These wells provide not only water but also shelter from the hot and dry weather. Also, these wells recharge the groundwater table. These wells are also a unique form of underground-well architecture.

    Thirteenth entry for the ISC 13th Birthday Special- A thread a day challenge
  • #703877
    I have heard and read about the oldest step-wells located near Junagadh, Gujarat that was built by Buddhist monks date back to the 4th century but did not know that these are called Bawri or Vav. If we search our history and epics, we find so many such inventions that are still pulsating. We have Hawa mahal, Kailasha temple in Ellora which is cut from a single rock, underground drainage during the Indus Valley civilization, The Konark Sun Temple shaped like a giant chariot with exquisite stone carvings, etc are some of the known highlights of India. We are now thinking about water conservation or rainwater harvesting after taking inspiration from ancient designs.
    “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in." — Morrie Schwartz

  • #703884
    I had heard the word 'Bawdi' in Marathi. I understood it as well only. But after reading this thread only I understand Bawri is a step well. Of course I had seen them in many old palaces when I visited some such tourist spots in Northern and western India. I feel that they were built so because the water level was much deep from the surface and they are in rain deficient places.
    In southern parts of our country also such water sources are there. Most of them are connected with temples and known as Temple Teerthams(ponds). There were many such square ponds known locally as Chira, not connected with temples also, which were used by general public for bathing, washing and for watering crops.
    I am not familiar with the word Vav before reading this thread.
    We had many such innovations as per our need and knowledge in those days. Many of them are slowly disappearing by dilapidation. Only a few are salvaged and maintained as heritages.
    Still there are many ingenious methods of water conservation and water drawing in villages.

  • #703895
    I am hearing this first time. As Venkiteswaran mentioned, there are many small step wells in temples. Near my village, a great temple of Lord Subramanya "Tiruchendur" has a stepwell which is known as 'Naazhi Kinaru'. kinaru means 'Well'. Because the size of the well is only a measure of Naazhi( 1.5 litres). We can use only a small utensil of 6-inch dia to draw water from this well. The water level never goes down. Any utensil dropped is not recoverable. No one knows the depth of that small well. I think, it is connected to the sea. On a day, thousands of devotees take bath in this well. Yet the water level will never goes down even by an inch. That's is the miracle of this holy well. It is said that Lord Subramanya has pierced his Vel (His weapon) on the ground to dig this well.

    We won't find such a smallest well anywhere in the world.

    No life without Sun


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