Doaba’s outlandish Water Tank Art

The roof art of Doaba region is well-noted for its distinctively styled cisterns. The trend can be traced back to 25 years. Bang up to date, the variety in the land is copious with striking erections. Tribune correspondent Deepkamal Kaur and lensman Sarabjit Singh let you feast your eyes upon some.

Doaba’s outlandish Water Tank Art

The talk of the town: Water tank artist Balwinder Kaul from Jandiala Manjki village of Jalandhar has been creating water reservoirs and rooftop creative artwork since the past 21 years. He learnt it from his father, who started this work in 1995, and cannot count the number of such designer structures they have readied. The twosome has even got featured on the 'OMG Yeh Mera India' show aired on the History Channel. They began it all with simpler designs like football and airplane and have now graduated to more complex designs like tractor, kabaddi players, and even statues of Dr BR Ambedkar and the heroes from the Sikh history.

The rural skyline in this part of Punjab is a little different. Since it is the NRIs who dominate the Doaba region, they have also made it a point that when they reach village, they should get a feeling that their home is around. With that sentiment in mind, the art of styling the rooftop of the house by erecting concrete-based water tanks of distinct shapes started here some 25 years back.

The statue of revolutionary leader Bhagat Singh atop the house of Bhag Singh at Khatkar Kalan. The statue is quite depictive (above) as he is shown holding a pistol in one hand and the Tricolour in the othe

Over the years, the shape of the water reservoirs has evolved from airplanes to ships, army tanks, trucks, birds like eagles and hawks, horses, kangaroos (marking relocation to Australia), bullock carts and of late more popular tractors, bhangra-performing Punjabi couple and sports figures. Since all the shapes desired cannot be used for water storage, some villagers also prefer to install them as artwork only.

More recently, people have also started preferring having iconic figures of their choice as larger than life statues. For instance, a house at Dhanoa village near Jalandhar has the statue of Rani Laxmibai riding a horse. Two houses in the ancestral village of Bhagat Singh at Khatkar Kalan in Nawanshahr have his statues atop an already constructed water tank. The idea of having statue of Dalit icon Dr BR Ambedkar is also a favourite among many.

Village sarpanch Sukhwinder Singh said 430 families in the area are all fond of it. The statue of revolutionary leader Bhagat Singh was erected atop the house of farmer Satnam Singh at Khatkar Kalan in 2008. His idea of getting it readied and installed was to keep the heroic deeds of the youth icon alive among his successors.

Having a unique showpiece on the house has become such a matter of prestige for some families that they do not mind even if the local artisans or fabricators ask for hefty amount for the work. Their only demand is getting a finely chiseled piece with bright colours such that it makes their house stand apart.

Harjinder Singh, a farmer from Kapurthala, had set up a tractor-shaped structure on the rooftop of his house around the onset of kisan morcha last year.

A water tank in the shape of a saddled horse near LPU campus in Phagwara.

Jahaj wala ghar: The house of UK-based NRI Santokh Singh Uppal at Uppal Bhupa village near Phillaur has a replica of an Air India aircraft, made out of brick and mortar. The 85-ft dummy plane was readied by a local designer named Amarnath, in 2004. Uppal, who had left village at the age of 17 in 1959, says the plane symbolises the dreams and aspirations of the Punjabis who nurture the dream to settle abroad. The aero-house, which has two-side opening, cabin windows and working propellers for ventilation, has been named as 'jahaj wala ghar'. The NRI says his grandchildren love to play in it whenever they return home.

An ex-serviceman’s house stands distinct at Chaheru village of Phagwara owing to a water reservoir in the shape of a tank.

A lion-shaped water tank on a house at Parsurampur village.

A rooftop statue of Jhansi Ki Rani at Dhanoa village in Jalandhar.

To have a unique identity of the house, a sports lover has installed a footballer in action alongside trophies on his rooftop at Jandiala village of Jalandhar.

Giving a distinct touch of rural life from the rooftop of his home, a resident of Parsurampur village has set up a water tank in the shape of a pair of two bullocks driven by a farmer.

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