Saturday, March 5, 2016


Long Long Ago:
This is a picture of Ghadsisar. Sar means a lake. King Ghadsi of Jaisalmer got it made 650 years ago with the help of the people.

All around the lake there are ghats with steps leading to the water, decorated verandahs, large halls, rooms and much more. People came here to celebrate festivals and for programmes of music and dance.

Children came to study in the school on the ghat. The talab belonged to everyone and everyone took care to keep it clean.

Rainwater collected in this lake spread over many miles. It was made in such a way that when the lake was full, the extra water flowed into another lake at a lower level.

When that too filled up, the extra water flowed into the third lake and so on  filling nine such interconnected lakes. The collected rain water could be used throughout the year and there was no shortage of water.

Today, Ghadsisar is no more in use. Many new buildings and colonies have come up in between those nine lakes. Now the water does not get collected in these lakes but just flows away and is wasted.

Through the eyes of Al-Biruni :
One of the most famous of the historic accounts of India is that written in Arabic by al-Biruni nearly a thousand years ago. 

Al-Biruni is regarded as one of the greatest scholars of the medieval Islamic era and was well versed  in   physics, mathematics, astronomy, and natural science, and also distinguished himself as a chronologist, historian, and linguistic.

He spent a large part of his life time in  ghazni in modern-day Afghanistan and the capital city of the   ghaznavid dynasty.which was based in what is now central-eastern Afghanistan.

In 1017 he traveled to the Indian subcontinent and authored “Tarikh Al-Hind” -History of India,  after exploring the Hindu faith practised in India. He is given the titles the "founder of indology ".

More than a thousand years ago, a traveller came to India.The place that he came from is now called Uzbekistan.

Al-Biruni carefully observed and noted down the details of all that he saw. He wrote especially about those things that he found very different from his own country. Here is a part of what he wrote about the ponds of that time. The people here are very skilled at making ponds. My countrymen would be surprised to see them. They pile up huge
rocks and join them with iron rods to build chabutaras (raised platforms) all around the lake. Between these, there are rows of long staircases, going up and down.

The steps for going up and coming down are separate. So there is less crowding. Today when we study history, we can learn a lot about those days from the writings of Al-Biruni. (This stamp came out in 1973, one
thousand years after his birth.)

Jaipur is the capital and largest city of the state of Rajasthan, India. Jaipur became the capital of Rajasthan after Independence in 1956.

Jaipur is currently experiencing growing water scarcity and diminishing drinking water sources, relying extensively on groundwater and a single surface water source, the Bisalpur Dam, which is shared with Ajmer and villages in the Tonk District and located 120 kilometers southwest of Jaipur.

Scorching heat coupled with water crisis has made life very difficult for people in Rajasthan. In at least 24 many cities and towns of the state including Barmer, Jalore, Makrana, Rajgarh, Balotra water is being supplied only once in four days.

Camels are being used to pull water tankers instead of ferrying people. At every boring well in the state rows of camels with water tanks are seen.

Besides Jaisalmer, many places in Rajasthan, get very little rainfall. Here it rains for only ten to twelve days in the entire year, sometimes not even that much. The rivers here do not have water in them all round the year.

And yet, most of the villages in these areas did not have a shortage of water. People knew that every drop of water was precious. Lakes and johads were made to collect these precious drops of water.

Water was everyone’s need. One and all came together in this work – be it a businessman or a labourer. Some water from the lakes soaked into the ground and reached the wells and bavdis
(stepwell) in that area.

The soil of the area also became wet and fertile. Every house had a system to collect the rain water. Look at this picture.
How do you think the rainwater that falls on the roof will reach the
underground tank?

Draw the path:
Have you ever seen a stepwell? Look at the picture. Can you imagine by looking at the picture that the steps go down several storeys deep?

Instead of drawing the water up from the well, the people could go down the steps and reach the water. That is why they are called stepwells.

Long ago, people used to make long journeys with their caravans of animals and goods. People felt it was a good thing to give water to thirsty travellers. Thus, they built many beautiful stepwells.

Customs related to water:
Even today people get water from very old lakes, dharas, stepwells and naulas. Many customs and festivals are related to water.

At some places, whenever lakes get filled up with rainwater, the people
gather around the lake to celebrate.

See the bride of Uttarakhand in this picture. After getting married she has come to the new village. She bows to the spring or the pond. In cities
one can see an interesting form of this custom.

The new bride worships the tap in her home. Can we even imagine life
without water? Devraj

Think over it:
In 1986, there was no rain in Jodhpur and the surrounding areas. People remembered the old and forgotten stepwell (baoli). They cleaned the stepwell and more than two hundred trucks of garbage was taken out of it. People of the area collected money.

The thirsty town got water from the stepwell. After a few years it rained well and again the stepwell was forgotten.

There are two old wells in the area where Punita lives. Her grandmother says that about fifteen - twenty years ago there was water in these wells. The wells could have dried up because:

Water is being pumped up from under the ground, with the help of electric motors.

The lakes in which rain water used to collect are no longer there. The soil around trees and parks is now covered with cement.

This is how we get water:
A Jal Board water tanker comes to our colony twice a day. We have to stand in a long queue to get water from the tanker. People at times We fill water from the well.

The nearby well dried up a year ago. Now we have to walk far to reach the other well.

We are not allowed to take water from some of the wells because of our caste. have fights over water. We get water at home for half an hour. We fill this in the tank to use all day. Sometime it is dirty.
We get water from our taps, all day long.

We have put a pump directly in the Jal Board pipeline. Now we don't have any problem! We have put a motor to pump up the water from the borewell. But there is no electricity, so what do we do!

There is a handpump nearby, but the water that we get from it is salty. We have to buy water for drinking.
We get water from the canal itself.

It can be done:
There are some groups that work hard to bring water to the people of different areas. They ask the elders about the water arrangement in their times.

They rebuild the old lakes and johads, and also build new ones. Let us see how the group called Tarun Bharat Sangh helped Darki Mai. This is Darki Mai. She lives in a village in the Alwar district of

The women of the village used to spend the entire day looking after their home and animals. Sometimes, it took them all night to pull water from the well for the animals. In the summer, when the wells dried up, they had to leave the village.

Darki Mai heard about this group and asked for help. Together, the people from the group and the village decided to make a lake. The problem of food and water for animals is now less. People get more milk. They have started earning more.



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