Happiness delivery: Building 60 ft high, multistoreyed towers to provide a safe home to pigeons
Pigeon lovers of Sanchore, Jalore district, Rajasthan; Photo by Purushottam Diwakar
Colourful towers, as high as 60 feet and dotting fields and temple complexes, invariably catch the eyes of visitors to Sanchore, a tehsil block in Rajasthan bordering Gujarat. Look closer and you will find locals gathered over there to offer feed—mostly millet seeds—to pigeons. Tiny compartments in the towers serve as home to hundreds of birds. “Sanchore’s 600,000 residents have built some 200 bird towers,” informs Satyendra Bishnoi, a chartered accountant.
One such tower is in Choura Dhani, a hamlet of 3,000 people located a 15-minute drive away from Sanchore town. Each of its 672-odd compartments, made of ceramic, can house a pair of pigeons. Locals say the iron-and-cement structures, inside which the ceramic chambers are fitted, keep the birds safe from rain and predators. They are well-ventilated to guard against the summer heat, when temperatures can touch 45°C. There are three more towers within Choura Dhani panchayat limits.
In big cities, pigeons may be despised as potential disease-spreaders, but the people of Sanchore consider them as symbols of peace and find happiness in providing them a place to rest and feed. “The towers are inspired by similar structures residents saw in the grain markets of nearby Palanpur and Unjha in Gujarat,” says Rajasthan environment minister and Sanchore MLA Sukhram Bishnoi.
The multi-storeyed towers have come up in the past three-four years. Earlier, the pigeons lived in wells and borewells. With the Narmada canal bringing piped water to homes, locals sealed many wells. The birds shifted to people’s homes and trees, but were exposed to rain and cats. Their declining numbers got the environment-friendly Bishnoi community into the act. “The idea of tower homes caught on as they were safer than trees for the pigeons,” says Rana Ram Bishnoi, a retired block officer from Sanchore.
The towers, built on a 10×10 sq. ft foundation 12 ft deep, can host as many as 1,500 birds. They cost about Rs 5 lakh and 30 days to build. The ceramic compartments are procured from Morvi in Gujarat. Residents have also built grain storehouses near towers to make it easier to feed the pigeons. The towers have either been funded by the community or individual donors. Dinesh Purohit, the sarpanch of Hareter village, says a visitor from Mumbai donated Rs 5 lakh for the tower in his village. Ansi Devi Devasi, who lives nearby, regularly spreads millet seed feed for the pigeons. In Choura Dhani, this responsibility has been taken up by villagers Parmeshwari and Jumko Devi. It’s a task that demands time and dedication, but nobody’s complaining.
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