Traditional Water Practices in India’s Himalayan States

The India Water Portal has released a series of articles and videos on traditional water systems and indigenous infrastructure in the states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, well-known for being home to large mountainous regions. This series documents fascinating tools, infrastructure, and techniques that the people of the mountains traditionally used in order to collect and use water for various purposes. However, many of these are in decline and will probably die out within a generation. I am including three different media on the subject here:

(1) A video on building naulas in Uttarakhand. Naulas are small structures designed to extract and store water from natural springs. According to the video, naulas were quite common in villages across the state but were relegated to a secondary status after the introduction of piped water.

You can also read the associated online article:

(2) An article on kuhls or community-operated irrigation channels in Himachal Pradesh. Kuhls are fascinating not only for their engineering and design but also for the structure of political and economic institutions they created around themselves. Kuhls were essentially a common resource, resulting in the creation of a complex indigenous commons of water use.

They have also been documented in academia, most notably by J. Mark Baker of Humboldt State University.

(3) A photo essay on water-wheels or gharats used to grind grain in Himachal Pradesh by utilising falling water on hill-slopes. According to the essay, many of these have now been replaced by electric mills.

There’s also a link to a flickr page containing more photographs of gharats:

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