A city-based collective of researchers and graduates from CEPT University have found that three of the 16 stepwells in and around Ahmedabad are unused, dilapidated and uncared for. The collective has documented 16 stepwells from Ahmedabad that are part of a week-long exhibition, “Stepwells of Ahmedabad — A Conversation on Water & Heritage” — which opened on World Water Day on March 22.
The collective, led by city-based architect Riyaz Tayyibji, saw heritage enthusiasts from the city document 16 stepwells in and around Ahmedabad in a bid to explore their present condition and issues of heritage in the larger context of the city. Surface water, ground water and settlement, gender and patronage, inhabitation and the living building, question of heritage were some of the facets studied by the researchers.
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“As we went visiting several stepwells, we found 16 and have documented them by way of drawings, photos and films. A 7-member team, consisting of CEPT alumnus and current students, came up with close to 22 photographs and measured drawings of the stepwells for the exhibition. We studied the iconography, the structure, the religious significance, the relationship between the water and the structure and with the community living around it,” said Neel Jain, an architecture student at CEPT University, who is part of the collective.
The event also witnessed a series of informal discussion and lectures that will go on till March 29 by a host of eminent experts on heritage and water like Ashoke Chaterjee, former NID director, archaeologist Jitu Mishra, research entrepreneur and educationist Mansi Bal and RJ Vasavada, former head of Centre for Conservation Studies at CEPT, among others.
Tayyibji, who led the initiative, said, “Interestingly, we found that many of the stepwells even now despite conversions in structure and use remained largely spaces for women, which they had been traditionally.”
The stepwells that have been documented include Rudabai ni Vaav at Adalaj, Bai Harir ni Vaav at Asarwa, Jethabhai ni Vaav at Isanpur, Ashapura Maata ni Vaav at Bapunagar, Vaav at Vadaj, Khodiyar Maata ni Vaav at Bapunagar, Maata Bhavani ni Vav at Asarwa, Vaav at Bhadaj, Gandharva Vaav at Saraspur, Pouranik Vaav at Bapunagar, Sindhvai Maata ni Vaav at CTM, Amritavarshini Vaav at Panchkuva, Khodiyar Maata ni Vaav at Vasna, Ambe Maata ni Vaav at Malav Talav, Kali Maata ni Vaav at Bapunagar and Vaav at Doshivada ni Pol.