Hidden Heritage Under Threat: Stepped Wells of Naga Kunda

ICOMOS - International Council on Monuments and Sites

Sudi, Gadag District of Karnataka, India

Located in the historic town of Sudi, in close proximity to the twin temples of Mallikarjuna and Jodukalasadagudi and currently separated by the recent housing developments in the vicinity. 
Once a famous pilgrim centre and an important stronghold of Kalyani Chalukya 11th CE this small-town houses important temples from the 10th and 11th CE. The Temples of Mallikarjuna and Jodukalasadagudi (twin towered temple) are representatives of transformation of earlier the Rastrakuta phase to Kalyani Chalukyas or western Chalukyas of Karnataka dravida stream. The Stepped well of Nagakunda (Sacred Cobra pond) is perhaps a unique experimental exploration of subterranean architecture and represents the knowledge system of geology and water management systems from the early 10th century. 
The widespread belief is that the majority of stepped wells (broadly classified) are only located in the western part of India primarily in states of Gujarat and Rajasthan. But there are many structures spread in the southern part of India, like this structure, which haven’t got their due recognition. This may partly be due to the scale of these water works in comparison with their northern counterparts. 

These are unique in their own scale and intense detailing in sandstone and are of greater significance with respect to understanding of geological, religious significance apart from unique architecture.

Why is it under threat?
Although the building is declared as a protected monument by a state agency, there is hardly any attempt to systematically document and maintain it. The roots of overgrown vegetation have started widening gaps in the structure and many parts of it under severe lateral pressures. Subterranean masonry structures bear a lot of lateral thrust and any minor damage in its walls can exert huge thrust and can result in irreparable damage. The neglect and lack of concern of the monument is resulting into dumping of trash, garbage and even vandalism.
Credits: Story

Author Shalimi Dasgupta
References: Dr Kailash rao M, Professor, Faculty of Architecture, MIT, Manipal University
Photos, drawings, 3D mesh credits: Dr Kailash rao M

Credits: All media
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