52 ancient stepwells of Parbhani cleaned, restored

Over the past two months a total of 52 ancient stepwells of Walur village in Parbhani district of Maharashtra were cleaned and revived by youth and the village community under the Barav Swachhata Mission.  Having cleaned the structures from the trash accumulated over the years, the stepwells can now be used again for water conservation.

The cleaning activity was carried out under the leadership of the District Collector – Smt. Anchal Goyal and Chief Executive Officer – Zilla Parishad, Mr. Shivanand Taksale.

The stepwell conservation movement in Maharashtra had made headlines in the last couple of years with awareness being raised amongst the communities about the caves, well, temples and stepwells that date back to 9-13th century.  A group of conservationists led by Mr. Rohan Kale, Mr. Malharikant Deshmukh and Mr. Laxmikant Sonwatkar have mapped around 1800 such wells, documented them and gathered people’s support to revive the water bodies located in the drought prone region.  Other than calling upon people to support this movement and enlightening them on the vision, the team also roped in the departments of water conservation, tourism and town planning.

Two ancient stepwells that were cleaned recently in Walur village need special mention.  The Maharshi Valmiki Tapobhumi that was smothered and piled high with trash had almost disappeared.  The ancient stepwell is a two-tiered structure with spiral staircases on eight sides and is an exquisite example of Indian architecture. Featuring helical steps, the stepwell with spiral staircases is the only one of its kind, known to the world. 

Expecting nothing in return, 100 to 150 young and older people of the village joined together and worked day and night to clear out the debris that consisted of thorn bushes, leaves and branches. And the beautiful stepwell has been revealed thanks to the hard work of the community.

Thereafter, the community took on the task of cleaning yet another stepwell – the grand Pushkarani Barav also called Bardani Barwa situated in a Muslim majority section of the village.  The village community resolved to bring this step well too back to life and went on to clean and restore the water body in record time.

During this Swachhata Hi Seva, the people spontaneously celebrated Deepotsav within the stepwells of Walur.  Plans are on to celebrate each step well that has been restored in the coming days. 

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