The Wadar community of stone cutters is helping the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to restore the heritage forts in India.
They belong from the villages of Solapur and Ahmednagar and they are the supposed descendants of those who worked to build such monuments and forts made out of basalt rock during the Maratha and Portuguese rule in India.
These workers are helping in restoring nine forts in Maharashtra, the Jhansi fort of Uttar Pradesh, the Bidar fort of Karnataka, and the Krishna Temple of Hampi. Work at the Elephanta Caves of Maharashtra began last year.
The workers were engaged in restoring the flooring and pillars at the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Their skill involves cutting stones in a way that is uneven but still fits perfectly to form a wall. Such a varied proportion of the rocks is what makes this stone carving unique.
To plaster the walls in place, the Wadars make use of the traditional lime mortars. Sometimes, the paste is also made with condiments and ingredients like jaggery, hurda, matki, okra, and urad dal, etc.
This unique skill of stone cutting has been passed on from one generation to another in the Wadar community. They all have their tools for stone carving like a hammer, an ax, a chiseling tool, etc.
These tools are custom-made by blacksmiths and they prefer to use these tools over any other alternative. Even though they are exceptionally skilled laborers, they don’t have adequate earnings.
Their affiliation with such a government restoration process ensures that they get the minimum wage as is mentioned in the gazette of restoration projects and also provide them with Provident Fund benefits.
I would like to request the editorial board to assign a journalist to further report on the Wadar community of stonecutters.