A fort perched on top of a hill, a baoli hidden in the vegetation, a well nearby, a lonely baradari surrounded by blooming mustard fields, some chhatris tucked away amidst a cluster of trees and random kos minars dotting the highway make one wonder if there is any pattern to all these relics from the past especially when they are located close to routes connecting important historic towns.
The old Delhi Jaipur road is one such historic route. It was an important link between the Mughal capital of Shahjahanabad and the Rajput capital of Amer and subsequently Jaipur which was founded in 1727 A.D. The old Delhi Jaipur road is now the National highway no. 8 which has been aligned more or less along this historic route as is quite evident from the number of historic structures located along it. Along this route one can see a number of garhis or small forts with one at Neemrana, Shahpura and Achrol. Located all along this very important link close to the road can be seen a number of other historic structures as well such as chhatris, shelters for weary travelers and water structures.
One such water structure is located near village Kojawala at a distance of around 60 km from Jaipur. The huge water tank with a baradari in the center of the tank connected by a causeway reminds one of the historic past of this route. The now abandoned water tank is considerable in size and is located close to the road on the left side as one travels from Delhi to Jaipur. Although no information about who built it and what purpose it served is available but its planning and design surely indicate to it being an important structure. When full to its brim with greenery all around the structure surely would have been a spectacle to behold. However today the structure stands in a totally transformed context with linkages to its historic past almost severed.
This historic water tank is not an isolated occurrence but part of many such relics from the past that can be seen as one travels along routes connecting historic towns. If not protected adequately structures such as these might soon succumb to the constant expansion and construction activities taking place along highways. They have a different tale to tell and need to be preserved. Especially in times when water is increasingly becoming a scarcity and rain water harvesting is being promoted in a big way, there needs to be a change in our attitude towards historic water structures from the past. If revived in a sensitive manner structures such as these can become a historic link with our past as well as continue to function as creative recreational spaces fro the weary travelers zipping down the highway. Prominent signage along such routes can highlight the presence of these unpretentious heritage assets, giving them another chance, a new lease of life. Preserving them for posterity might be a good idea. Who knows someday these scattered evidences of the past may fit together like a jigsaw puzzle and these dots can all be connected to tell an untold story of marching armies and journeys of weary travelers, ones that were never chronicled by the bards nor aroused the interest of historians.
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