Research Paper

Bāravas: An Architectural Exploration of the Traditional Groundwater Storage Structures of Puṇe, India

Authors: Manas Marathe

Year: 2021, Volume: 12, Page/Article: 1, DOI:

Download PDF


This paper explores the architecture of bāravas, which are stepped ponds, built traditionally in western India for storing and fetching groundwater. It attempts to understand their architecture, construction technique and spatial qualities through case examples of two bāravas found in Puṇe, built during the 14th century. The data is obtained mainly through field research carried during November 2018 and documented in the form of field notes, sketches, maps, photographs and drawings. Secondary sources of literature such as books, journal articles, gazetteers and translations of old Saṃskrut texts in English and regional language Marāthī were useful to crosscheck and supplement the observations made on the field. The findings reveal that bāravas are location-specific, adhere to the hydro-geological conditions of the site, and make the invisible groundwater visible to the users. They transcend their utilitarian function and also serve as interactive community spaces. In conclusion, the paper highlights the need to document, revive and reuse bāravas so that they once again become a visible part of the settlement fabric as community spaces and encourage people to share and value groundwater.