The great lands of Rajasthan comprise mostly arid desert regions and shrub forest, something that poses a problem when it comes to agriculture and availability of potable water. When it comes to water usage, the people here have always been ingenious, and make the best usage of the 1% of fresh groundwater that they can access.
There are several traditional water storage techniques, some in use even today by the local communities. Our desert luxury camp in Jodhpur is surrounded by local communities that rely on water harvesting, and stepwells are among the more notable sights to see in Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. Below, we write about some of the traditional methods of water harvesting, and where you can spot them!
Among the more notable places to see in Jodhpur are the various stepwells dotted throughout the city. A stepwell, or Baoli, is a tank that is built below ground level, with steps leading down to the tank. Most of these stepwells have rich historical significance, being built in the early 16th or 17th century. They are also architectural marvels, with their symmetrical step designs a sight to behold. Among the more notable Jodhpur attractions is Toorji ka Jhalra, or Toorji’s Stepwell. Commissioned by the then queen and wife of Maharaja Abhay Singh, the complex is constructed entirely with red sandstone, typical of Rajasthani architecture, and provides water access all year round.
One of the techniques of water harvesting that you will find all around the region, but more commonly in rural areas, are the taankas. Taankas are small to medium sized reservoirs of potable water. They are covered, usually with cement or wood, and have a cistern outside where rainwater gets collected and deposited into the taanka. The main purpose of the taankas is water preservation and also to prevent the water from getting contaminated, and a typical taanka can store up to 20,000 litres of water!
Taankas have also been a part of Rajasthan for centuries. The earliest records of a taanka being constructed are from the 17th century, when community tanks were the norm. Today, however, if you pay a visit to the villages around our desert luxury camp in Jodhpur, you’ll find that each house has their own little taanka, along with the community wells.
Lakes and tanks, or Talabs, have been an integral part of Rajasthan’s cities. One of the major attractions in Jodhpur is the Balsamand Lake, constructed in the 12th century by Gurjara rulers. This impressive artificially constructed lake spans a kilometer in length, and nearly 50 ft in depth. A must visit sight when staying at our desert luxury camp in Jodhpur, and you are paying a visit to the city!