Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Devanahalli and its water: Then and Now

The Devanahalli town located very close to the Bangalore International Airport (34 km from Bangalore) is home to around 30,000 people. It is also 

the main town of Devanahalli Taluk in the Bangalore Rural district. The town is of historical significance. The town is still a sought after location for

 its old temples, forts dating back to the 15th Century. The town is also the birthplace of Tipu Sultan, an erstwhile ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore 

from 1782 to 1799.

Locating Devanahalli

Traditionally, Agriculture has been practiced in Devanahalli and it is the main livelihood to many communities in the town. Devanahalli is also home

 to a number of Keres, open wells and step wells/Kalyanis which are of cultural and heritage value. They were also the traditional water systems locally. 

This region has historically been dependent on the network of cascading tanks, step wells and open wells to tap local groundwater for different water 

needs. Tanks served the purpose of both groundwater recharge and as irrigation reservoirs. All domestic needs and agriculture needs are served by 

Open wells and step wells/kalyanis used for religious and cultural purposes. 


Within the town Shineeru kere or “Sweet water lake” and Doddadda ammani kere or “very big lake” are two major water bodies. These water bodies 

serve the drinking, domestic and agriculture needs indirectly. The two lakes recharge the groundwater as well. To access this groundwater, almost 

every household and farmers built open well as a decentralized water management system. Devanahalli also had few public open wells to serve the 

needy. These public open wells also had a kundi/small tub adjacent to it to withdraw water from well and pour into the tub to use for their day needs. 

In few of the public places/places of importance, a traditional water distribution system/ Silendra near the dargah is places which served water for

 travelers who waited here to board a vehicle or for rest.

Identified open wells in Devanahalli

Open well

Step well

Kundi/ Tub

Silendra/ Water distribution system for travellers

With a new wave of urbanization proposed by Bangalore International Airport Area planning Authority (BIAAPA) in the last decade, Devanahalli is 

planned to be the centre of new developments. It would be surrounded by large Software, Hardware, Financial Services and Aerospace special 

economic zones (SEZs). Today, its municipal boundaries cover an area of around 16 sq km but it's set to expand in the coming years. This 

development will also lead to transition from agricultural lands to real estate – currently mostly into residential properties. Along with the 

landscape transition, the region will also experience transition in its water scape. The catchments of the lakes are already disturbed affecting inflows 

into the lakes. Groundwater tables have also fallen drastically in the region, and in general this area experiences water scarcity.  


Farmers therefore have invested in drilling deeper bore wells in many places, often without adequate yields. Beautiful open wells with masonry stones 

dot the landscape, but are mostly dry and filled with solid waste today. The area has also seen investments by farmers in drip irrigation systems to 

conserve the water. The town is managed by local municipality i.e. the Town Municipal Council (TMC). The individual households of the town are now 

connected with water pipes to receive municipal supply from public bore wells dug by the TMC or from tankers and few are connected with their own 

borewells, changing the water paradigm from decentralized water management to centralized water supply. Eventually, to sustain the growing water 

needs, deeper aquifers replaced traditional systems as a primary driver for irrigation and domestic consumption. Though, these sources provided 

short term relief  but drastic exploitation of groundwater was soon visible. Every year 8-10 new borewells are dug to meet the growing water 

demands of the town putting shallow aquifers out of the imagination. This is the best time for Devanahalli town to realise the role open wells have 

played over the centuries in management of water. Can we look at bringing back this water heritage of the town which were crafted exquisitely to be 

called work of art? Stories are already emerging from the town of formal and informal enterprises realising the importance of shallow aquifer. 


In the next few blogs we will talk about small stories on the impact of urbanization on shallow aquifer in Devanahalli. 

- Srivalli Kiran

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