Monday, April 20, 2015

Heritage walk with a difference

Groundwater expert Govindan Kutty explaining the Karez or the Surang Bavi system in Naubad near Bidar on Sunday.

It was a heritage walk with a difference. A group of youngsters woke up early on Sunday to rediscover an underground medieval-era rainwater harvesting structure and the need to conserve it. The trip traced the Karez or the Surang Bavi system on the outskirts of Bidar.

City-based NGO Team Yuva invited college students, historians and mid-career professionals to a ‘Show and Tell’ about the people of Bidar and their rich cultural heritage.

Govindan Kutty, groundwater expert from Calicut University, took the group around the mouth of the Karez near Siddeshwar temple in Naubad and traced 22 air vents and the Bag-e-Hamaam where the Karez is supposed to end.

All through the tour, he and the other resource persons stressed on the need to conserve the rare water structure using methods like afforestation, protection of lakes and regulating sand and laterite soil mining.

The group walked and crawled through the caves and air vents built in the Karez gallery where rainwater is collected and filtered through layers of laterite rock. Prof. Kutty said that the underground aqua duct was built exactly on the lineament fractures that store groundwater.

The medieval era engineers must have decided this looking at the trees that grow atop water lines or the kind of rocks and soil seen around the fractures, he said.

Prof. Kutty gave details of the quality of workmanship that led to carving such massive structures. Square-shaped air vents were cut out to help workers decide on the direction of the Karez line. Beds were carved on the wall for workers to rest between long working hours. Stands were cut out to keep lamps and water cans, he said.

Prof. Kutty pointed out that rapid urbanisation was a threat to the structure. People are building houses above the Karez without realising that the structures could collapse. Secondly, several air vents are being used as garbage pits and trees on the watershed areas are being cut rapidly. Water bodies like the Naubad tank are being destroyed owing to sand and top soil mining. “If the civil society and stakeholders don’t stop these immediately, we will run out of ground water and lose an important part of our cultural heritage,” he said.

An NGO helps youngsters rediscover an underground medieval-era rainwater harvesting structure


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