The Karez System in Bidar
One of the most unique features of Bidar is the historic ‘Karez’ system (also known as Qanat) which is a water harnessing technology that originated in Iran/Persia. The ‘Karez’ system in Naubad village, Bidar is of great historic significance dating back to almost 500 years. The karez technology basically taps into the ground water sources (or natural springs) and transports it through an underground tunnel to the settlement, ending in surface canal and/or pools in the village for various uses like drinking, washing, ablution, watering livestock, and also further used for irrigating fields, orchards and gardens.
The original Persian term for Karez is Kariz and the rest of the world has yielded many names for this system; like in North Africa it is called “Fugara”, “Falaj” in Arabia. “Qnat Romani” in Jordan and Syria, “Galerias” in Spain “Kettharra” in Morocco, “Kanjering” in China and “Kariz” in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Karez is found in 38 countries worldwide and of course most of these are concentrated in the Middle East region. Persia is known for the earliest known and documented Karez system.
The Muslim dynasties with ruling class descending from Persia or having influential connections with Persian kings may have invited expert engineers from Persia.
The silk route may have been the information highway to transfer the cultural and traditional knowledge.
Introduction of Kariz in India
Karez system was built by Bahmani kings in 15th Century by the Bahmani kings in Bidar, Gulbarg and Bijapur in Karnataka and also in Burhanpur in Madhya Pradesh.
Kariz is nothing but the Underground canals, built to underground water streams which are meant to provide drinking water to civilian settlements and garrison inside the Bidar fort.
This system was necessary in a city like Bidar where the soil was rocky and drilling wells to accommodate drinking water was difficult.
It is believed that the Muslim rulers of Bidar, under the expert advice of Persian engineers followed Karez system by laying subterranean canals in the heart of the rock by widening the natural rift.
The Naubad Karez is estimated to have been constructed during the Bahmani Period (1347 – 1518 AD). The Karez was probably directed towards developing infrastructure for a village at Naubad.
Preserving Karez in India
The Naubad Karez has nearly 21 square shaped manholes were cut at suitable points to conserve ground water.
The modern methods of ground water extraction have largely impacted the water availability in Bidar which already receives low rainfall.
The centuries old Kariz system should be rehabilitated and promoted as traditional means of irrigation and drinking water supply.
The educational value of this historic system is highly relevant in the present days of water disputes that are prevailing at local, regional, national and international level.
Why restore Karez?
Ground water has become the most vulnerable water resources because it has few higher qualities compared to surface water as it is protected from the direct pollution and most importantly the seasonal and perineal fluctuations hardly matter and ground water is much more uniformly spread and conserving ground water is cost effective and reliable and is suitable for any kind of land. Hence ground water conservation and recharging has been gaining momentum across world.