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Ancient Stepwells

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News:

Prime Minister recently praised local efforts for water conservation in Jabalpur and commends citizens for reviving an ancient stepwell.

What:

  • Stepwells, also known as baoli, baori, or vav, are architectural structures designed to provide access to water, especially during dry seasons.
  • Stepwells have a series of steps or flights of stairs that lead down to the water level.
  • Many stepwells were adorned with intricate carvings, sculptures, and ornate architectural features.
  • Stepwells were associated with temples and considered sacred in some cases.

Why:

  • To highlight the significance of water conservation and revive deteriorated water sources.
  • Stepwells were not only functional but also served as community spaces for gathering, worship, and social interaction.
  • Important for historical and architectural heritage.

How:

  • Over time, many stepwells have fallen into disrepair and neglect.
  • Efforts are being made to restore and preserve these historical structures as part of India’s heritage.
  • For instance, efforts were made to revive the Ujaar Purwa Ki Baoli (stepwell) in Jabalpur, MP. After restoration, the stepwell will be named “Jal Mandir” to symbolize water conservation and availability.
  • The beautification process for these stepwells will be supported by MP funds, the Smart City initiative, and the State government.

Where:

  • They were important for water conservation in arid and semi-arid regions.
  • They can be found in states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and others.

MCQ:

What purpose did stepwells (baoli, baori, or vav) in Medieval India, serve in addition to providing access to water?

[a] They were used exclusively for royal bathing rituals.

[b] They functioned as community spaces for gathering, worship, and social interaction.

[c] They were primarily used for agricultural irrigation.

[d] They were designed as underground shelters during wars.

Answer:

[b] They functioned as community spaces for gathering, worship, and social interaction.

Explanation:

In addition to providing access to water, especially during dry seasons, stepwells also served as community spaces where people could gather, socialize, and in some cases, worship. They were associated with temples and considered sacred in some instances. They were not used exclusively for royal bathing rituals, primarily for agricultural irrigation, or designed as underground shelters during wars.

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