According to archival information, the Bansilalpet stepwell has existed since the 17th century. Locally called Naganna Kunta, it was seen on an 1854 map.

It lay covered in debris and ruins for more than four decades before being given a fresh lease of life by Kalpana Ramesh, founder of Rain Water Project, who has restored eight wells before this in the city.

She along with the Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MAUD) department of Telangana and IAS Arvind Kumar have revived and restored this baoli.

It took more than 500 days, involving 100 professionals and 1,000 workers.

Speaking of how she decided on restoring the baoli, she says, “A model village was developed around this stepwell by TH Keyes in 1933 and was funded by Bansilal Seth.”

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“I got the Munn maps, which talk about this village, and found it extremely interesting. My immediate thought was that we should restore it to something spectacular again.”

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Thus began the transformation of the six-level stepwell from one filled with “sewage, bandicoots and rats” to one that is now a spot for rainwater harvesting.

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It began by desilting the stepwell, strengthening the walls and mandapams, and rebuilding the ones which were broken.

Kalpana explains they have built water channels across the well for rainwater harvesting.

“These channels will collect water and drain through the pits we’ve built. The pits go into an aquifer,” explains the water warrior, adding that the stepwell has the capacity to hold 22 lakh litres of water.

Today, the area is almost unrecognisable.

The stepwell is surrounded by a cobblestone-paved pathway with gorgeous electrical light poles. An old building nearby has been converted into a tourist plaza with a viewing gallery.

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There is a history interpretation centre, an amphitheatre, a jogging track and a garden. Kalpana hopes to open a cafe there too.