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Look what has been found inside the Banganga

Clean-up operation inside Walkeshwar tank throws up a few surprises

Stopping accumulated rainwater flowing into tank

The sacred Banganga Tank at Walkeshwar, has been undergoing a clean-up operation for the past three weeks, spearheaded by a non-profit organization called the Bafna Foundation.

The tank had a number of sacred idols or murtis at the bottom. Many of these are in good condition and are currently under lock and key, till the Bafna Foundation decides what to do with them. The Foundation says that it plans to speak to the  Archeological Department to ascertain if these murtis have heritage value. Pics/Bipin Kokate
The tank had a number of sacred idols or murtis at the bottom. Many of these are in good condition and are currently under lock and key, till the Bafna Foundation decides what to do with them. The Foundation says that it plans to speak to the  Archeological Department to ascertain if these murtis have heritage value. Pics/Bipin Kokate

The aim is to clean the tank of sludge, filth, accumulated debris and other rubbish that people have thrown into it, since the past years.

A cycle tube has been found inside the Banganga tank, just one indication of how persons use this as a dumping ground. The cycle tube was coiled tight and lying at the bottom of the tank
A cycle tube has been found inside the Banganga tank, just one indication of how persons use this as a dumping ground. The cycle tube was coiled tight and lying at the bottom of the tank

Says Rajkumar Bafna, Bafna Foundation trustee, "we have reached the end of the cleaning and found a number of murtis (idols) in the water, along with garbage and other debris. While some of these idols are new, few seem to be quite old, they may have heritage value.

A set of dentures, cast in silver. These were found inside the tank, inside a pot which contained  ashes. There is a crematorium a little away from where the tank is housed
A set of dentures, cast in silver. These were found inside the tank, inside a pot which contained  ashes. There is a crematorium a little away from where the tank is housed

We are going to speak to the State's archeological department, so may be they could send an expert to evaluate if these idols have any historic, archeological value." The idols remain under lock 'n' key in the vicinity of the tank.

Broken pots and receptacles were fished out during the cleaning operation. The cleaners had made a wooden shaft like a plank with which they were dredging the tank and removing mud and silt too from the bottom of the water
Broken pots and receptacles were fished out during the cleaning operation. The cleaners had made a wooden shaft like a plank with which they were dredging the tank and removing mud and silt too from the bottom of the water

There have been other items found like liquor bottles, snack packets and plastic. These speak eloquently about how shoddily people treat Mumbai's heritage sites.

Cloth seems omnipresent at the tank site, with clothes strewn outside for drying. Many residents around the tank, wash their clothes in the water and dry them on the steps of the Banganga
Cloth seems omnipresent at the tank site, with clothes strewn outside for drying. Many residents around the tank, wash their clothes in the water and dry them on the steps of the Banganga

Says Bafna, "Now that the cleaning is nearly over, we have to refill water into the tank. As it is, during cleaning we could not drain the tank completely. We had to retain a minimal amount of water in the tank, as there are fishes in the tank and we did not want to kill them by draining out the water completely.

Currently, we have about three feet of water in the tank, we will increase this to six to eight feet." Right now though, the Foundation says that it wants to build a small boundary wall, "so that accumulated rainwater does not seep into the tank. We need to start work on that, on a priority basis."

The legend
According to local legend, the Banganga sprang forth when the Hindu god Ram, the exiled hero of the epic Ramayana, stopped at the spot 5,000 years ago in search of his kidnapped wife Sita.

Overcome with fatigue and thirst, Ram asked his brother Lakshman to bring him some water. Laxman instantly shot an arrow into the ground, and water gushed forth from the ground, creating a tributary of the Ganges, which flows over a 1,000 miles away, hence its name, Banganga, the Ganga created on a baan (arrow).

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