Ponds, tanks relics of a bygone era


A view of the ancient ‘bauli’ and well at Serai Immanat Khan that is in a dilapidated condition.
A view of the ancient ‘bauli’ and well at Serai Immanat Khan that is in a dilapidated condition. — Photo by Rajiv Sharma

Amritsar is one of the t ancient and legendary sites in Punjab, but t of the water tanks, especially near the Pakistani border, dried up after the end of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s rule owing to apathy shown by the state and the local residents.

It has been established now that the whole of Amritsar district was part of the vast area covered under the Indus Valley Civilization during the early period of history. This civilization developed prior to the Aryan Civilization in this region. According to a study, many temple tanks existed in this region even before the foundation of Amritsar (meaning “ a pool of nectar”). Only a few of these tanks still have water.

Many water tanks served millions, who would travel on the old Delhi and Lahore (via Fatehabad, Tarn Taran Tehsil) road.

The ‘tank’ system shows that long before the great dam-building projects of the 20th century, the people of this part of India had a firm grasp of hydraulic engineering. And, unlike many of today’s big dams, this system of water management was in tune with the environment.  The tanks also provided a vital habitat for birds such as pelicans, painted storks, and common cranes, and wildlife like spotted deer, wild boar, and occasionally, tigers.

The retrieving of three idols of Lord Mahavira, the twenty fourth and last Tirthankara of the Jain religion, from the ancient tank of Kotla Vasawa Singh, a few kilometres from the Pakistani border showed the antiquity of the place. However, two of the idols have been lost, while the third was kept outside a religious shrine without any protection. The tank is near the mound from where archeologist have found traces of various civilizations. However, this ancient water tank and its adjoining “bauli” are in the state of utter neglect these days.

The Lok Kalyan Samiti has identified at least 20 water tanks having a magnificent structure near the Indo-Pak border. Mr Jagmohan Singh, president of the Samiti, informed that these water bodies were located at Serai Imanat Khan, Kahngarh, Kotla Wasava Singh, Attari, Boparai Kalan, Kahangarh, Rajatal, Dhand Kasel, Chawinda Devi, Bhakna Kalan, Baniye Ke, Preet Nagar, Pul Kanjri, Fatehabad, Gandiwind, Naurangabad, Ramtirath and Chamiyari. The biggest of them was at Rajatal Tank, which was spread on about nine acres. He said usually each water body had a temple on its bank. For instance, Dhand Kasel village (considered to be the birthplace of Mata Kaushalya, mother of Lord Rama), had a temple.

Serai Amanat Khan is famous for its ornamental gateway and glazed tile decorations. However, a beautiful “bouli” attached with well has been ruined. Such elegant structure situated in a small village, south west of Amritsar has now been ruined. The serai had a beautiful gate constructed in the Mughal style of architecture. The tomb of Amanat Khan was surrounded by four minarets. The que near the tomb is decorated with Persian verses.

During the Mughal period, the Badshai Road passed from Atari to Govindwal, via serais Amanat Khan, Nurdin, Naurangabad and Fatehabad, all of which are situated in Tarn Taran. The serais are alt of the same design and dimensions, having water tanks. These places virtually formed fortified habitation, the whole population residing within the four walls of the serais. Over 100 yards in length as well as breadth, Serai Amanat Khan is 29 km from Amritsar and four km from Attari. At a distance of about 12 km from Serai Amanat Khan, on the Tarn Taran Road, is another serai, called Nurdin. About 11 km from Nurdin towards Govindwal is a serai at Naurangabad that is also in ruins. 

Located at a distance of 30 km from Amritsar, Gobindwal Sahib is another place to visit during your excursion from Amritsar. The beautiful “bauli” has been marbled. However, its antiquity could not be preserved during “Kar Seva”.

Mr Dev Dard, an archeologist, says villagers adopted different methods for water harvesting and conservation in those days. He says the temple tanks were once the heart of water management. Partition also gave a big blow to the heritage temples and water tanks.

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