Heritage Water Walks Narratives of Sustainable Sacred Spaces

Jaipur-based Neeraj Doshi started the walks to showcase a cultural phenomenon of Rajasthan
 The walks include cultural and historical sites like Amer Fort
The walks include cultural and historical sites like Amer Fort

Neeraj Doshi, founder of Heritage Water Walks, digs deep into his roots to reveal deeply embedded water conservationist practices that are as relevant to the desert state today as they were centuries back.

A graduate from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Boston&rsquos Tufts University,&nbspJaipur-based Doshi has spent a decade and a half working in the sustainability space. He started Heritage Water Walks to showcase this lesser-known cultural phenomenon of Rajasthan.

What was the inspiration behind this initiative

ND The inspiration has always been my own past. I grew up wondering how did this barren dead place evolve into a thriving and beautiful culture It is omnipresent and yet stays hidden in plain sight. For me, this was the cultural phenomenon that had to be discovered.

Tell us something about the importance of the &lsquowater culture&rsquo of Rajasthan and how it plays out as a community effort.

ND Water is critical for survival for every living being. However, when a group of people chooses or is forced to survive in a water desperate zone, water concern consumes their every living activity. This gives rise to a societal structure with water at its core. This precious elixir of life has also evolved into a sacred space in water-deprived societies.

Could you shed some light on the water architecture of Rajasthan and its historical roots 

ND Water architecture in Rajasthan is very rich and varied. Different regions have developed different mechanisms and technology to conserve water. Topography plays a very important role in this technological evolution. Some of these technologies or systems are paar, kuin, johad, nadi, jhalara, kuan, talaab, beri, khadin, baodi/bawadi, sagar ke &lsquokuen&rsquo, etc.

What is the cultural impact of water on Rajasthan

ND We celebrate water in every aspect of our lives, be it our beliefs and traditions, food, language, art, and architecture, music, or dance. In essence, water is our collective cultural repository.

You offer three different heritage water walks &ndash Nahargarh, Amer Fort and Palace, and Ramgarh Lake. What is the reason behind choosing these three places

ND Yes. All three are cultural and historical sites of importance and tell a different story of water. Amer Fort and Palace is a defence structure as well as a royal residence. It is the oldest of the three. Nahargarh Fort is a defence structure designed to house thousands of people, both military and civilians. Ramgarh Dam and Lake are the youngest structures dating back to late 19th century.

What is the modus operandi on the walks What has been the response to the walks

ND The purpose of the tours is to deliver a unique experience and fun. To this end, all our tours have a strong storytelling component with a logical beginning, middle and end. All the information and facts are shared within this loose structure. The format is conversational which makes it all very enjoyable. The response has been good. 

Photos courtesy Heritage Water Walks

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