120 year-old Well Traced near ‘Appannakatte’ aka ‘Hampankatte’- MLA Vedavyas Kamath and MCC Mayor Diwakar Pandeshwar plan to retain the well and make use of it for water supply to certain parts of the City
Mangaluru: In October 2019, a British-Time Well was discovered in Middle of Bolar Leewell Road during Road Widening Work. sources revealed there used to be a well constructed by a British officer by the name of G Lee Morris, who served the region as Principal Collector in 1863 and 1864, near Bolar which later got the Lee-Well, in the 19th Century. It is learnt that this well provided water for nearly 50 families in that locality. But due to many suicides committed by people jumping into this well, Mangaluru City Municipality had closed it nearly 50 years ago. And after closing the well, a bus shelter was built next to it, which still exists. (Ref: British-Time Well Discovered in Middle of Bolar Leewell Road during Road Widening Work) .
‘120-year-old Well is below this Concrete Slab’
Similarly, a couple of days ago, yet another nearly 120-year-old well was discovered near the Auto-rickshaw park in front of Taj Mahal Restaurant, during the Mangaluru Smart City Limited (MSCL) road construction work now going on near Hampankatta Circle, near District Wenlock Hospital, Mangaluru. Even though citizens say that the water is safe for consumption, authorities have sent samples of this well water for testing. It is said that the well could be 100 feet deep, when the workers lifted the concrete slab, covering the well. On getting information of this well, MLA Vedavyas Kamath, Mangaluru City Corporation Mayor Diwakar Pandeshwar, along with a bevy of Corporators visited the spot and did some survey.
Speaking to the media, MLA Vedavyas Kamath said, “There is a century-old history behind this well, and if we find out after test results, that the well water is fit for drinking, we will make use of the water. I will discuss this issue during the next MCC meeting, with the MCC Commissioner and concerned officials and corporators, and do the needful. Water is precious these days, and we can’t neglect this well if it contains good water. At present we have directed MSCL to stop the road construction work for a while, the final decision will be taken by the administration and other concerned departments officials”.
‘Concrete of Water Storage Tank built by Mangaluru Fire department’
Speaking to Team Mangalorean on the history of this well, my classmate at St Aloysius College, Mangaluru, Dhananjaya Palke (Owner of Canara Jewellers, which is located right opposite to this well) said, “This well has a history of over 120 years, as far as I know. Before 1905, there were no motor vehicles, and transportation was mainly by using bullock carts, horse carriages. During that time, a man by the name of Appanna, used to draw water from this well, and provide it along with a piece of jaggery, to bullock cart & horse carriage riders, and also the pedestrians/public. Appanna used to take rest at a Katte (small platform/protective wall) nearby, and thus it was named after him, as Äpannakatte”.
Palke further said, “In the years to come, the name was changed from “Appannakatte” to “Hampankatte” by the British authorities, in 1920. Till 1962, there was no municipal water supply, and this well was totally neglected. In the year 1962, former and First Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru had visited Mangaluru, and he was taken in an open jeep from the residence of Late Nayampalli Shiva Rao (presently the Shivabagh Bungalow, sitting atop on Shivabagh Road in City- where not only Nehru, even Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari, Governors of the times and many historic figures are said to have had stayed in this ancient Shiva Rao’s house) in a procession to Nehru Maidan”.
“And since this well, having three poles and supporting walls was in the middle and obstructing Nehru’s motorcade, it was decided to do some changes to the structure of the well. Therefore three months before Nehru’s visit to Mangaluru, three renowned figures of the Hampankatta area, ( late Palke Babu) (founder of Canara Jewellers), (Late) Kudupi Srinivas Shenoy (founder of Taj Mahal Restaurant) and Late Ahmed Haji (owner of the building adjacent to Taj Mahal restaurant) requested Mangalore Municipal Councillor (Late) Manel Srinivas Nayak, to retain the well, but put a concrete slab with an open lid over the well, and it was done. Until May 1975, the fire brigade of Mangaluru used to pump water out of this well, and they also constructed a storage tank near to this well. A few days ago, when I noticed the workers digging in that area, I cautioned them of the existing old well below and alerted them to work carefully. I also informed MLA Vedavyas Kamath, and other MCC officials, and they assured to do the needful”, added Dhananjaya Palke.
So till the matter is taken by the MCC and District Administration in their next meeting, the citizens will have to keep their fingers crossed to see the future of this ancient well, and also road construction work has to be halted in that area, till the final decision is made.