Water from Stepwell in Orchha is used for Irrigation

  • By Sanjay Yadav
  • March 10, 2022
  • Here is an example of how water from a step-well is used to irrigate agricultural land. Can this idea be explored and replicated elsewhere? 

DRAFT. I had read Why do Temples have Tanks and Stepwells so when I got to know about this step-well, locally called Baori, in my town of Orchha, I was pretty keen to see it. Orchha is 16 kms from Jhansi and about two hour’s drive from Khajuraho. 


What is unique here is that water from well is being used for irrigation to this day.


First some general information.

Entrance. Steps take you to well.View from other side. Centtre steps go to well

The baori was made in the 16th century by Maharaja Madhukar Sahay. It has a verandah type open area on both sides. Locals told me, that in earlier times the open area was used by travellers when they broke their journey. A place to relax and water was readily available. Like in many baoris there is a temple next to it.

Hanumanji temple next to baori. Pratima of Hanumanji inside temple. Jai Bajrangbali. 


When I looked up, top of well, saw a few water pipes going in the direction of the farm next to the well.

Pipes take water to farm.

I spoke to the farmer Chhotelal Kushwaha who told me that this well had water for 12 months of the year and helped irrigate his fields. He grows wheat.

Pipe goes to bottom of well. Right of pic see steps.

There are so many step-wells in Western and Central India. Can we explore if there water can be used for agricultural purposes?

A baori has other benefits too.  

Author and noted travel blogger Anuradha Goyal wrote in Hinduism Today, “Anupam Mishra, a pioneer in rainwater harvesting and water conservation, is credited with reviving many traditional water conservation techniques. In his copyright-free book Ponds Are Still Relevant, he takes us through the ecosystem of water bodies in different parts of India. He talks about how people chose the right spot and time to build the pond and how they maintained it over years, involving each segment of the society that benefited from it.” 


Now coming to the practical aspects.


The step-well and Kunds also had water that is required for temple rituals. Water increased the ground water level and replenished community water supplies.


Author is a guide in Orchha. All pictures by author.


Also read

1. All you wanted to know about Orchha

2. Album Orchha

3. Album Bundela Paintings Orchha

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