Gift of a Big Blue Heart

The Badrakali Lake, Warangal.

Sushmitta Renganathan

Representation of the natural form taken by Badrakali Lake.

If one looks up the city of “Warangal” today, Google Maps might show a stereo-typical green-grey landscape of a developing Indian city, cut through by roadways and national highways. But unlike the rest, at the center of Warangal is a clear blue heart that seems to be persisting amidst the bustle and growth of the city. Rightly guarded by three geologically significant granite hillocks, centuries-old temples, and a few small water bodies in its vicinity, is this heart shaped historic treasure called the “Badrakali Lake”.

View from the Badrakali Temple shows the North and North West bounds of the Badrakali Lake being defined by the Hanamkonda, Padmakshi, and, Shyampet Hillocks.

Said to have been constructed over a thousand years ago, the Badrakali Lake is a testimony to the Kakatiyan Dynasty’s time tested ‘Temple-Tank-Town’ system of urban development. While for a modern-day visitor, this Lake and its surroundings may seem like an unexpected reveal by the city, or even a surreal vision contrasting with those of the urban vicissitudes; For the people of Warangal, however, the Badrakali Lake continues to be a life-sustaining source of pride, identity, culture, livelihood, biodiversity, and so much more.

As the water levels lower, the uniqueness of the granite rock boulders along the shores come into view. The Badrakali Temple is a distant audience in this picture.

 This might even be attributed to what seems like an unwritten agreement dictated by the terrain, that leaves the shallow shores along the South, and South West of the lake to a growing marsh and its many nesting birds and mammals; While marking the North, North East, and West bounds of the Lake as centers of historical and cultural heritage. The chief elements include the Badrakali Temple, Padmakshi Temple, Rudra Temple, and Hanumadgiri Temple.

The Padmakshi Temple Pond as seen a day after a temple festival.

The nature of this set up turns the Badrakali Lake and its surrounding water bodies into indispensable sites of social significance. During festivals like the Bathukama Pooja, and Shakambari festival, the serenity of the Lake shifts to accommodate the festive spirit of the people. It watches on as an honorary spectator, passively voicing out its concerns through the discarded decorations and colorful pots, spilling from the mud roads to the shores the next day. This perennial cycle of activities, does not disrupt the purpose of the lake which continues to be the most important source of drinking water to the city. However, in the summer of 2018, a record low in the water levels of the lake was reported.

The Badrakali Lake and the role it plays in bolstering the historical, social, cultural, biological, and geological significance of the city, makes it a valuable gem not only in Warangal’s urban fabric, but also in that of our nation’s. For over a thousand years, the Badrakali Lake has stood true to its purpose of creation by mankind. The responsibility of sustaining this gift, however, has always rested on more than just nature’s shoulders. Exactly as this historic marvel was conserved and passed on to us, it is now our responsibility to preserve its glory and carry it forward for at least another thousand years.

Published by Sushmitta Renganathan

I am an Architect and Urban Designer, passionate about playing my part in conserving the beautiful rarities in our society. I care about the diversity, environment, conservation of arts and culture, gender equality, and intercultural dialogue. My passion for designing, writing, and photography, help me to assert myself on the issues I have the privilege to witness and understand.

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