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| Last Updated:: 02/02/2016

Sacred Waterbodies

 

 

           

Kusum Sarovar,Mathura

 

 

 

Lakes and tanks are an integral part of India’s famous and highly evolved traditional water management systems. In areas like the Deccan peninsula where the rivers are not snow-fed, the different kinds of tanks - percolation ponds, natural lakes, artificial reservoirs and temple tanks – proved to be of great use. While the ponds, lakes and artificial reservoirs were used for activities like irrigation, washing etc., the temple tanks were sanctified and the waters were drawn only in times of drought. 

 

 

Significance 

 

 

Water harvesting – Since the water from the temple tanks was not extracted for everyday chores, it served the vital purpose of recharging the underground aquifers, reducing the runoff and enhancing the water stagnation time, thus ensuring sufficient water in the domestic wells during the summer months. 

 

 

Religious – The temple tanks are revered no less than the temple itself. Their waters are believed to cleanse all sins. In fact, devotees are required to wash their hands and feet in the temple tank before entering the temple.  The waters are also used to perform the daily ritual bath (abishekam) of the temple deity. Annual float festivals are conducted in the tanks, when the idol of the deity is floated around the tank on a decorated raft.

 

 

Aesthetic and Recreational – The temple tanks also added aesthetic value to the temple area. In small villages and towns the temple tanks and their steps served as a gathering and meeting places for the entire community. In state like Gujarat and Rajasthan, the “step wells” were beautifully decorated with sculptures.

 

 

Some of these sacred tanks supported a variety of life forms especially fish, which helped maintain the cleanliness of the tank by eating moss and algae which would otherwise turn the water murky.

 

 

Decline and Deterioration

 

 

  • Most of the ancient temple tanks have fallen into a state of repair and disuse

 

  • Unchecked extraction and blocking of inlet ducts (either by unplanned construction or litter) has led to the drying up of some of the temple tanks

 

  • Pressures on the land have lead to the encroachment of these dried out tanks. For example, in Bangalore, the famous Dharmambudhi tank has been drained to make way for the Majestic bus stand

 

  • Many tanks have become sinks for sewage and garbage of the neighbourhood. Those tanks that still have water have been invaded by various kinds of weeds, rendering them unfit for use.

 

 

C.P.R. Environmental Education Centre took up a survey of 175 temple tanks in South India. The visual survey and recording of information was accompanied, in several places, by the analysis of both physical and chemical parameters of water. 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 List of  Sacred Waterbodies 

 

 

Sl.No.

State

Local term for temple tank

No. of tanks listed

1

Andhra Pradesh

 Kalyani , Temple Tank,Pushkairni

12

2

Arunachal Pradesh

Kund

1

3

Assam

Pukhuri

5

4

Bihar

Sarovar,Temple Tank

1

5

Delhi

Baoli

 9

6

Gujarat

Vav,Vaav, Kund, Sarovar

11

7

Haryana

Baoli, Holy water bodies,Sarovar

9

8

Himachal Pradesh

Kund

2

9

Jharkhand

Sarovar,Holy water bodies

1

10

Karnataka

Kalyani,Temple Tank

20

11

Kerala

Temple Tank

24

12

Madhya Pradesh

Kund

10

13

Maharashtra

Temple Tank,Kund

68

14

Manipur

Sacred Ponds

1

15

Meghalaya

Sacred Tanks, Lake

3

16

Odisha

Temple Tank,Sarovar

7

17

Puducherry

Kovil Kulam

1

18

Punjab

Kund / Sarovar

5

19

Rajasthan

Baori, Baoli,Baudi, Bawdi or Bavadi

9

20

Sikkim

Lake

3

21

Tamil Nadu

Kovil Kulam,Temple Tank

116

22

Telangana

Kalyani , Temple Tank,Pushkairni

1

23

Tripura

Sacred Ponds

2

24

Uttar Pradesh

Kund,Bowli

31

25

Uttarakhand

Kund

7

26

 West Bengal

 Kund

 5