Located at Bansilalpet in Secunderabad, this 17th-century six-level stepwell represents the heritage of Telangana, but has remained neglected for decades.
The Bansilalpet stepwell has the capacity to store 22 lakh litres of water. Instead, it was filled with 2,000 tonnes of waste. Left in ruins, it had turned into a dumping site over the past four decades.
In order to restore the stepwell to its former glory, Hyderabad-based architect Kalpana Ramesh from ‘The Rainwater Project’ joined hands with the administration.
“I was shocked to see this historical beauty in ruins. It had been completely encroached on and was used to dump garbage. I decided that I would rebuild every wall of this well and restore it to its former state,” Kalpana tells The Better India.
Along with 100 professionals and 1,000 workers, Kalpana cleaned and de-silted the stepwell. The team also strengthened the walls and mandapams around it. In a span of 500 days, the four-decade-old stepwell was restored to its original glory.
The well was part of a garden before British Resident TH Keyes set up the Bansilalpet model village around it, funded by Seth Bansilal in 1933.
Following the restoration, Kalpana tried recreating the same model village that the stepwell had around it years ago. And nearly 16 months later, the stepwell looks unrecognisable.
It is now surrounded by a pathway with electrical light poles, a plaza, an interpretation centre and an amphitheatre, a jogging track and a garden. The revival of the well has thus changed the face of the locality and is a sought-after heritage spot.
The Bansilalpet stepwell received the prestigious Big 5 Construction Impact Award in Dubai just hours after its inauguration on 5 December, 2022.
Edited by Asha Prakash.