The Living Wells of Bijapur



The bavadis were the main source of water during the rule of the Adil Shahi kings in Bijapur. With their unique architecture, attractive carvings and grandeur, these enchanting bavadis were brimming with water till about three centuries ago. But these heritage structures have been vandalised and fallen into disuse.

The Adil Shahis of Bijapur, well known for their able administration and love for music, were also recognised for the excellent water supply schemes that
they implemented. There is much historical evidence to show that they possessed deep knowledge about water harvesting. Infact they did not look upon water as a mere daily necessity, but also as a luxury commodity to indulge in water sports. The water was collected in the hills outside Bijapur and supplied to the inner parts of the city through tunnels to bavadis. Historians confirm that the density of population in Bijapur was so high during the reign of Ibrahim Adil Shah II and Mohammed Adil Shah that the city probably consumed double the quantity of water it needed.

Bavadis are another term for a well. There are a number of bavadis here such as Tajbavadi, Chand bavadi, Ibrahimpur bavadi, Nagar bavadi, Mas Bavadi, Alikhan bavadi, Langar bavadi, Ajgar bavadi, Daulat Koti bavadi, Basri bavadi, Sandal bavadi, Mukhari Masjid bavadi, and Sonar bavadi etc. In fact, the list is very, very long. Of these, the Taj bavadi and the Chand bavadi are the biggest and attract tourists due to their artistic excellence. While Taj bavadi, with its size and grandeur, occupies the first place, Chand bavadi and Ibrahim bavadi occupy the second and the third places respectively. People of the city still use the 30 bavadis that exist today.
 
A well generally conjures a picture of a round structure with circular steps. But there is a world of difference between an ordinary well and a bavadi. The essential difference is in the style of construction. A bavadi is generally square-shaped and a passage runs along the entrance with halting rooms at its left, right and in the front. In the smaller bavadis, there is no passage and no halting rooms, though some have steps on the side. The parapet walls opposite the entrance are decorated with carved arches. In spite of these common features, each bavadi differs from the other and is architecturally significant.

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Br. Abdul Aziz Rajput

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