Warangal Urban: More than a dozen historic stepwells in Warangal city, many of them belonging to the Kakatiya era, are in an utter state of neglect, thanks to some irresponsible citizens and the apathy shown by officials of the Greater Warangal Municipal Corporation (GWMC), Department of State Archaeology, and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
With no efforts made to protect them, these stepwells have virtually turned into dumpyards for people living in surrounding areas. Sources steeped in history point out that there are as many as 13 such stepswells in the city including Warangal Fort. They include Metla Bavi at Siva Nagar, Srungara Bavi, Akka Chellela Bavi, Savathula Bavi, Esanna Bavi, Kodikuthla Bavi, Gadiyaram Bavi, Peerila Bavi, Kothawada Bavi, Karimabad Metla Bavi, Ursu Dargah Bavi and the one located at Thousand Pillar temple also known as Koneru.
While five of these are under the jurisdiction of the ASI at Fort Warangal, the remaining are located in different parts of the city. Many of them belong to 12th or 13th century AD. Both — Metla Bavi at Siva Nagar and Metla Bavi at Kareemabad — were restored by GWMC following the efforts of historian and archaeology enthusiast Aravind Arya Pakide. But all of them are now being used as dumpyards by what he terms as “wooden-headed” people.
“Though a compound wall was constructed around the stepwell at Siva Nagar by the GWMC, the locals, mainly owners of chicken centres, are presently dumping garbage into it,” Aravind told Telangana Today.
Stepwells are wells or ponds that have steps for people to reach the water level. They may be multi-storeyed with a bullock turning a water wheel to raise the well water to the first or second floor. It is believed that stepwells may have originated to ensure water during periods of drought. Stepwells were abandoned as a result of rapid modernisation and falling water tables, and the local residents never bothered about the upkeep of these wells, allowing them to silt up, fill with garbage, or generally crumble into ruins.
Meanwhile, Aravind and his friends Bharath Ramineni, a photographer, and Kalyan, embarked on a mission to make a documentary on the stepwells of Warangal in an attempt to create awareness among the public and also bring pressure on officials to protect them. “We met District Collector Rajiv Gandhi Hanumanthu and submitted a memorandum urging him to take steps to protect these stepwells. He in turn asked the GWMC officials to look into the issue,” Aravind said, adding that there was a need to protect these stepwells since Warangal was also selected as the Heritage City by the Centre. “We need to arrange a fence and take steps to prohibit people from dumping garbage into the wells after restoring them. We should not alter the historic value of the stepwells,” he observed.
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