As a part of Bangalore Design Week, Biome in collaboration with Art in Transit conducted a walk in Cubbon park titled WACH (Water, Art, Culture and History) on 29th November 2022. Water is intricately tied to the city’s culture and history and this is beautifully portrayed in the artistic murals inside Cubbon park metro station. The walk aimed to showcase these connections while also elucidating the intricacies of the behaviour of ground water with focus on the hydrogeology of Bangalore.
The event was open to public. Posters and announcements were posted and promoted on social media prior to the day of the walk to attract as many participants as possible. Design students were also invited from Srishti college to help develop designs that could facilitate the education and understanding of groundwater in various contexts. We were joined by nine enthusiastic participants from diverse backgrounds with age groups ranging from about 12 to 50.
The walk started from the metro station entrance where the audience were introduced to the park and its history. From there the conversation drifted into natural history discussing the formation of the Deccan plateau to understand a brief geology of the area. Focus then shifted to the current water usage by the city, its role in the local culture and its associated economic and political aspects.
This naturally led to discussions on the problems associated with some of the erroneous mainstream groundwater management practices. Scientific solutions employed in Cubbon park for better groundwater management were then demonstrated with focus on shallow aquifer management using recharge wells and open wells. Surface water management was also demonstrated with the help of ponds that are strategically located in the park. The participants were led to a pondside for a short rest. A few minutes of quiet and rest next to the water instigated deep contemplation in everyone’s minds. Water’s influence on the ecosystem as a whole and natural patterns associated with ecosystem remediation were discussed at length. This included the significance of lakes and wetlands in eco remediation and water management in the city as well.
Demonstrating the recharge well
Discussing surface water near the pond
Discussing natural patterns
The participants were then led to the culturally significant well associated with Karagada Kunte and the ancient Karaga festival of the region. They were mesmerised by the story of the festival and its association with water was greatly appreciated. The realisation of the presence of intricate cultural practices in the highly cosmopolitan IT capital of the country left the participants in awe.
Telling the story of the Karaga
Finally, a visit near the STP next to the park illuminated the role of treated wastewater for proper water management. STPs, natural greywater systems, black water management, dry toilets and their historic and cultural associations were discussed at length by the extremely enthusiastic and well informed group of participants.
Discussing wastewater management near the STP
The walk ended with a visit to the murals in Cubbon park metro station. The subjects portrayed in the artistic murals were explained and the discussion was directed towards the Mannu Vaddar (Bhovi) community, to which the traditional well diggers belong.
We hope that we were able to instil some significant understanding about groundwater and its proper management for an ecologically stable and an economically beneficial environment in the city.
Seeing the artistic murals at the metro station