The Amrut Kund, believed to have been created by Guru Nanak, in Bidar.
The stream, born in the laterite mountains along Manjra valley, comes out as ‘Amrut Kund’ in the gurdwara premises.
Bidar-based Gurudwara Guru Nanak Jhira, a pilgrimage centre for Sikhs all over the world, plans to take up afforestation and rainwater harvesting to protect the eponymous mountain stream that runs through it.
The stream born in the laterite mountains along Manjra valley comes out as ‘Amrut Kund’ in the Gurudwara premises. A beautiful temple of white stone and marble has been built at the point where the water comes out. Devotees queue up at the mouth of the Amrut Kund to collect the water, which is considered holy.
Legend has it that the founder of the faith Guru Nanak miraculously created the spring. Returning from his tour of Dakshina Patha or southern sojourn, he stopped in Bidar in the summer of 1512. Residents of the town complained that they were suffering from a severe drought and asked the prophet to help. He moved a stone with his leg and water gushed out from a hole in the ground. Amrut Kund was thus created, believers say. They also believed it never stopped yielding water in the last five centuries. Several households in Bidar collected drinking water from the Gurudwara for daily use till a few years ago.
However, the unprecedented heat wave of 2016 dried up tanks and ponds and sucked out water from wells and bore holes all over the district. The three tanks and seven springs surrounding Bidar city went dry. The Gurudwara spring was no exception. The eternal spring began yielding less and less water every month.
Cutting of trees in the mountain behind the Gurudwara and shaving off of laterite bunds to make way for new buildings also seemed to have contributed to the phenomenon.
Water flow in the spring was so alarmingly reduced that the Gurudwara authorities rationed water to visitors. Two steel tanks that quenched the thirst of tourists at the Amrut Kund were removed.
However, the Gurudwara committee now wants to find long-term solutions to the problem. They are consulting experts in ground water management. On Thursday, faculty members from the Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, run by the committee, have held meetings with Govindan Kutty, a professor from Kerala University, who first mapped the Surang Bavi or underground water canals of Bidar in 2010.
“On the advice of Mr. Kutty and Damian Singh, of the Sikh Heritage Foundation, we are taking several measures to protect and preserve the environment around the Gudurwara,” Balbir Singh, president, Gurudwara managing committee, told The Hindu.
“The first step has been to ban bore wells in areas like Guru Nagar that are situated on the elevated plateau above the Gurudwara. This decision was taken several years ago. That is because we foresaw the damage to the spring and the surrounding areas,” explains Mr. Singh. He said that in the next phase, high density plantation would be taken up in areas surrounding the Gurudwara. According to Mr. Singh, rainwater harvesting will be encouraged in all houses in Guru Nagar and surrounding areas. Watershed development structures like bunds, Krishi Hondas and curved linings will be built in gardens and other public places, he said.
“The Bidar Gurudwara is nestled in the lap of the beautiful Manjra valley. With a little effort, its pristine beauty and greenery can be preserved,” said Mr. Kutty. Saving rainwater and greening will not only reinvigorate the spring, but also recharge groundwater level in the surrounding areas, he said. He also called for protecting traditional water bodies like open wells and streams. Mr. Kutty has suggested that they choose trees of such varieties that retain the top soil and don’t damage deep aquifers. “Plants with surface roots like Amla and Bamboo should be chosen. Plants like Eucalyptus and quick stick (Gliricidia) should be avoided,” Mr Kutty said.
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