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India’s vanishing stepwells crying for attention, says US journo-author

Participating in a talk titled "Rahiman Paani Rakhiye' in Narayan Niwas Palace here, Victoria Lautman said India's stepwells were a marvel which bespeak architecture, beauty, culture, history and heritage of the country.

By: IANS | Jaipur | Published: January 28, 2018 12:42 pm
Jaipur literature festival, Victoria Lautman Jaipur literature festival, Jaipur literature festival updates, Jaipur literature festival highlights, Jaipur literature festival attendees US based author-journalist Victoria Lautman speaks at the Jaipur Literature Festival. (Source: File Photo)

Tourists have been thronging India’s temples, palaces, forts and mosques, but its ancient stepwells have largely been unknown which is really sad, said Chicago-based author-journalist Victoria Lautman here on Saturday.

Participating in a talk titled “Rahiman Paani Rakhiye’ in Narayan Niwas Palace here, Lautman said India’s stepwells were a marvel which bespeak architecture, beauty, culture, history and heritage of the country.

These remarkable subterranean structures provided communities with water all year long and also served as civic centres, refuges, remote oases and, in many cases, active places of worship as well, she added.

“Emerging as marvels of engineering, architecture and art, with some being lavish while others ornate, they were left abandoned during Britishers’ regime which brought it to the present deplorable shape.”

Stressing the need to give them urgent attention to ensure those bounce back, she said: “Britishers failed to take care of this precious property of the country. I hate saying this, but this is the explanation for the present state of stepwells.”

She was speaking in a programme organised by Anantaya, which has been setting new equations on grounds of sustainability.

Geetanjali Kasliwal from Anantaya said: “From being one of the most sophisticated water management systems to one which is constantly dependent on external sources, the water systems of Jaipur are in urgent need of restoration.

“Anantaya believes that our collective future depends upon how we address the issue of water. Perhaps, we can look into the past, and learn from it. ‘Rahiman Pani Raakhiye’ is one such initiative where we discuss the various aspects around water.”

Lautman also shared the reasons that prompted her to come out with a book “The Vanishing Stepwells Of India”.

She said that she fell in love with “baoris” (stepwells) of India. “They had wonderful architecture and were a living heritage of India. When I visited India for the first time, I felt that India can’t get out of my system. I loved every aspect of India…I was drinking in entire country everyday. But I was also feeling that stepwells in India are vanishing which was paining me from within.

“I was posting pictures of stepwells on Facebook and people were asking me about its details. Hence, I thought of writing a book on the same. Ultimately, an obsession with the country’s vanishing stepwells prompted me to write a book.”

The need of the hour was to adopt this incredible heritage and spread awareness on restoration of these stepwells in public-private partnership (PPP) mode. “It’s sure to bring a new era in new India.”

Claiming herself as the biggest fan of India, she said that “she is in love with this country and hence loves visiting frequently to India”.

The print and broadcast journalist for over 25 years, Lautman has hosted radio programmes in Chicago. Her first visit to India in 1985 led to many subsequent trips and ultimately an obsession with the country’s vanishing stepwells.

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    1. Raj Gandhi
      Jan 28, 2018 at 1:08 pm
      Indians do not respect anything Indian. Look at the contempt for Hindi.
      1. Raj Gandhi
        Jan 28, 2018 at 1:07 pm
        Indians only realise anything in India is beautiful when a foreigner says so.
        1. Nilesh Jain
          Jan 28, 2018 at 12:59 pm
          Who is crying for MONEY and OSCARS ? world knows. so you don't have to show the world. Who is crying for what. YOU SEE THEY ARE GETTING SCARED. WHO BROUGHT ME IN SPOTLIGHT FOR THEIR MONEY AND FAME ? OIL exporting countries should read this, poisonous snake US, acknowledge that they are MANIPULATING THE OIL PRICES. Instead of explaining and giving clarification , they are diverting from topic. Poisonous banks and financial system of US is MANIPULATING THE OIL PRICES and their WHOLE SOCIETY KNOWS IT. Oil exporting countries should see this and they should have the oil contracts in their own currencies.