Buhanpur Municipal Corporation in Madhya Pradesh revives a unique underground water system of the 17th century, Khooni bhandara, to solve the city's water scarcity problems
That Taj Mahal is by far the most exquisite example of Mughal architectural marvel, goes without saying. But some lesser-known wonders exhibit the more pragmatic side of the structural skills of these rulers. Khooni bhandara, an underground water management system, tucked away in the historical city of Burhanpur of Madhya Pradesh is one such instance.
During their reign, the Mughals developed Burhanpur extensively, as the base for their expansion in south India. Nature has endowed the region with ample water resources. The city is situated on the banks of the rivers Tapti and Utavali and receives about 880 mm of average annual rainfall. However, how to effectively utilise the available wealth to meet the needs of 2,00,000 army personnel and 35,000 civilians emerged as an issue of serious concern for the Mughal subedar, Abdul Raheem Khankhana.
Khankhana came up with the idea of developing an underground water system as a precautionary measure to prevent the enemy from poisoning the drinking water. Tabkutul Arj, a Persian geologist brought his ideas to life. In 1615, he constructed khooni bhandara, consisting of 103 kundis (well like storage structures) constructed in a row and interconnected with each other through a 3.9 km long underground marble tunnel. The quality of water is equivalent to that of mineral water.
Contrary to the image of blood and gore that the name evokes, the unique system was once a life giving source. Evolved in the 17th century, it provided water to the entire city for as long as 312 years before it collapsed in 1977. The hint of red colour in this mineral rich water, gave it the name khooni (bloody).
This system is so intelligently designed that it uses gravitional force instead of external energy for the supply of water to Burahanpur city.
Since its construction, the system has supplied water to the people for nearly 312 years. It was damaged in 1977 and remained out of sight for about 12 years. Since 1989, it started attracting the engineers and historians, who made several unsuccessful attempts to revive it, primarily due to the lack of funds.
Khankhana's wisdom occupies the same place of significance today, as it did in his days – solving drinking water problems locally.
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