Bangalore: A 500-year-old defunct kalyani (temple pond) in the Kumudavati basin, which had plastic, garbage and weeds choking it from five years, has now got 15 feet of water, thanks to the efforts of 42 students and nine staff members of Soundarya PU College from Bangalore.
The kalyani belongs to the Kashi Vishwanatha temple of Thyamagondlu village, about 15 km from Bangalore. The students, as part of their National Service Scheme (NSS) camp in nearby Dasanapura, worked tirelessly on the project. And within eight hours, on October 8, they cleared garbage, silt and weeds, to turn the kalyani into a live one.
Rejuvenation as part of leadership programme
The students took up the initiative as part of the college’s Youth Leadership Training Programme (YLTP). “It was Art of Living Foundation staffer Gopala Krishna who informed us about the condition of the kalyani. All our students and staff decided to give it a facelift,” Kumar H, the college principal, told Bangalore Mirror.
The task turned out to be daunting. “The kalyani was not only 80-feet deep but had steep walls making it dangerous for the students, who are just 16 or 17-year-old PU students. Yet, in the span of a few hours, our students have created a wonder by giving life back to the well,” he added.
Starting at about 9:00 am, the group, evenly divided into girls and boys, used sickles, ropes, buckets and other equipment. “Except for one local, Shivanna, none from the village joined us. However, the Taluk Panchayat President Jagadish helped by arranging tractors to ferry silt and garbage from the well. While all of our students began clearing and sweeping the steps of the kalyani, the staff assisted by Shivanna began scaling down the 80-feet vertical well, clearing branches and other waste materials,” Kumar said.
The locals reportedly even objected to the dumping of silt near the temple. “Still, temple priest Narasimha Murthy revealed that the kalyani was the temple’s property. We dumped much of the silt load close to the temple,” he added.
Peerya Naik, NSS Co-ordinator of the college, said, “While a few students were clearing and removing the silt and garbage at the bottom of the kalyani, a few filled it in the bucket and dragged it onto the top using ropes. Subsequently, it was loaded to tractors for dumping. Luckily it had rained previous day, so it was easy to pluck out weeds by the roots.”
Almost 12 tractor-loads of garbage and silt were removed from the kalyani. Much of the garbage comprised of plastic, tetrapacks and other waste. “Towards the afternoon, for about two hours, we broke for lunch and by 5 pm we had cleaned the kalyani. When we finally touched the bottom, we hit the groundwater and it began to ooze into it,” Naik said.
The students and college officials urged both the temple trust and local panchayat officials to maintain the lake by cleaning it at least once in three months in future.
Students and staff panicked for a few minutes after some were bitten by honeybees. “No one knew what was there beneath the weeds. As we began clearing, it may have disturbed the beehive and soon the kalyani was swarmed by bees. While a few covered themselves using towels and dupatta, a couple of us were bitten by bees. Yet, none of the volunteers discontinued the work and kept on clearing the garbage,” Kumar said.