The 'Apna Talab Abhiyaan' programme promotes the building of
private talabs on peoples'
a princely state of India in the colonial period was once a beautiful settlement
founded by Saurabh Singh Bundela, a Rajput King. Acceded to India
post-Independence, the town is now located in Mahoba, Uttar Pradesh. The place
was home to intricate water management systems in the past. According to the
settlement records for the Bundelkhand region, the region had numerous talabs-about
962 during the Chandela period-of which only 421 remain today. These old talabs
(water bodies) showcase the skill of the builders of this period.
Bundelkhand has always had a water problem and regularly
faces drought. However, the traditional storage systems, the Chandela and
Bundela talabs, used to even out the water availability enabling people to grow
two crops and also secure their drinking water needs. The Chandela talabs of the
region were built by halting water flow in rivulets through the construction of
huge earthen embankments. Hills with long stretches of quartz reefs running
underneath them, acted as a natural groundwater barrier helping to trap water.
These talabs had a convex curvature somewhere in the middle of the embankment.
Lime mortar was used in the stone masonry work, which has made them quite
were often accompanied by temples whose architecture was inspired by the
Khajuraho period. Ram kund and Suraj kund are two famed Chandela period talabs.
The water architecture is elaborate and they are lined with granite slabs in a
reverse pyramid shape. In some cases they were even accompanied by dargahs
(Quila Mismar in an old Chandela fort). These may have been built after Mahoba
became a part of the Delhi Sultanate. The elaborate structures were meant to
show off the glory of the king who built them.
The Bundela talabs were bigger in size and had solid steps
that led to the water. The Bundela kings who came later used lime and mortar
masonry. These talabs were bordered by steps, pavilions, chabootaras and royal
gardens. Locals say that the Chandela talabs were simpler and cost effective
when compared to the Bundela talabs.
The state used to maintain the larger talabs while smaller
ones were managed by the community. Community talabs were built by local people
through shramdaan or voluntary labour. Some prosperous families also took this
up as it was considered an act of piety. Stories abound that in the seventeenth
century when the son of Chhatarsal, the then ruler of Bundelkhand found
treasure, he was ordered by his father to use it for renovating old talabs and
constructing new ones but today these talabs are witness to state and community
Courtesy : India Waterportal