70 year old Irish man cleans Jodhpur’s historic stepwells for the last 5 years

This wonderful news comes to us from Jodhpur, India.

Caron Rawnsley is a French-born Irishman in his early 70’s and over the last 5 years, he has been cleaning Jodhpur’s famous stepwells, also known as bawaris or jhalaras. Till now he has spearheaded efforts to clean 10 famed reservoirs which include the Ram bawari, Govinda bawari, Kriya jhalara, Mahamandir bawari, Chandpol bawari, Tapi bawari, Mahila Bagh jhalara, as well as the Gulab Sagar lake.

Bawaris were drinking water points while the jhalaras used to supply water for royal ceremonies, religious rites, and community use. They, along with lakes form a complex system of waterways which was in active use until the late 1950s. They fell into disuse ever since water supply began through the Indira Gandhi canal. When Caron came to Jodhpur in 2014 he saw the beautiful stepwells and was shocked to hear that these unique and ancient water harvesting systems were lying derelict. So he decided to devote his time and energies to cleaning these places.

Previously Caron was a schoolteacher in Pakistan but he left the country after being hounded out of the place. When he came to India in 2014, he started looking for opportunities to work on environmental issues. This led him to join the Barefoot College where he worked for 6 months in the renovation of their water harvesting systems.

After traveling through the country he came to a village called Hada in Jaisalmer. Over there he helped to build a tree garden with a few goat farmers through an NGO which was run by a local permaculturist. They planted as much as 1000 trees but despite local assurance, goats ate up all the vegetation.

Following this incident, Caron landed up at Jodhpur and after having witnessed the famed stepwells he decided to stay in order to clean them. It was a lone struggle because even after reaching out to non-profit organizations and municipal authorities, not much help was forthcoming.

Caron decided to start cleaning the stepwells on his own and to this end, he hired a handful of workers. It was tough going at first, but assistance finally came from the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, who offered him skilled laborers up to seven of them at a time. So far, Caron has been doing stellar work and is a true example of an environmental warrior. The Mehrangarh Museum Trust sees in him a role model for society.

Image Source: The Better India

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