A heritage worth saving

Ashok Sharma

Name of the book- Duggar ki Bawalian
Author – Prof (Retd) Shiv Nirmohi Padamshree
Published by-Akshay Prakashan, Ansari Road, NewDelhi
Price-Rs 350.00
The book under review ‘Duggar ki Bawalian ‘(Springs of Duggar) from the pen of the icon of Hindi literature and Padamshree awardee,Prof(Retd) Shiv Nirmohi, is his 36th book which deals with the priceless heritage of bawlis of Duggar constructed in the days of yore when journeys were performed mostly on foot and there was no provision of providing tapped water to the households.Prof Nirmohi has already published three books on water resources of Duggar and these are titled ‘Duggar ki Nadian’ (Rivers of Duggar), Duggar Ke Sar’ (Ponds of Duggar) and ‘Duggar Ke Sarovar’ (Lakes of Duggar).To write a review of any work from the pen of the Doyen of literature on Dogra History and Culture is a challenging task as one needs the sharpest intellect and incisive mind to penetrate deep into the writer’s great research, profound thoughts and narrative skill.The present book is divided into eight chapters.The first chapter of the book deals with the bawlis or the springs of Duggar,categorisation of bowlies on the basis of their architecture, their cultural significance and the sculpture of idols installed on these bawlies.The bawlies in the plain areas are of well type, hilly type in the Shivalik range while in the sub Himalayan region,these are of semi hilly type.
The second chapter is devoted exclusively to 114 Bawlis located across the length and breadth of Udhampur District.These bawlis have great historical and cultural importance and are the priceless heritage bequethed to us by our wise forefathers.Some of these bawlis like ‘Rani Ki Bawli’ at village Salmerhi, has been got constructed by Rani Bhatiyali (Maharaja Hari Singh’s mother) while others have been constructed by various rulers who ruled those regions. A few of them, for instance,the Bawli at Mela Bagh in village Pattla has been got constructed by a rich and philanthropic man from Jammu in 1866 AD. These Bawlis have stones which bear writings inscribed in Takri script.
The third chapter describes 34 bowlies located in various parts of Kathua District. These bawlies have been constructed in pahari (hilly) style and most of them have rich architecture having huge historical and cultural importance. While the fourth chapter deals with nine bowlies in Samba District,chapter five is devoted to 26 bawlies spread across Jammu District.In Jammu District most of the bowlies are cylinderical in shape and lack sculptures and idols.The sixth chapter has the description of 21 bawlis of Reasi District constructed in Pahari style and adorned with sculptures and idols. The seventh chapter is devoted to 27 bowlies spread across Ramban, Doda and Kishtwar District. The architecture of these bawlis contains idols of naags and thus, seems influenced by Naag culture.The last chapter describes the 10 bowlis of Poonch and Rajouri Districts which have huge cultural and historical importance.In the olden days when there was no provision of supplying water through pipes and taps,these bowlis were constructed with a view to provide water to the local inhabitants, the traders and the travellers who usually walked on foot.The architecture and the sculpture of these bowlies speak a lot about the craftsmanship and architectural skills of the artisans who constructed them.These bawlies have withstood the rigours of weather and test of time for hundreds of years and still are considered as important source of water, especially in the rural areas where people gather to share their day to day experiences with one another.These bowlies are not merely source of water; they bear testimony to the rich cultural,historical and philanthropic vision of the kings and the philonthropic people who constructed them for the welfare of the people. The writer deserves applause for the hard work he has put in by visiting various sites of bawlis to collect valuable information information about them and then presenting this information to the readers in simple words to enable even a lay man to read and appreciate these priceless natural sources of water and symbols of our culture of and thus, strives to preserve them for themselves and the posterity.He has pleaded for their preservation and conservation to retain their architectechural beauty and cultural identity for transmission to the coming generations.