Vernacular and Traditional Wisdom
Conservation and Sustainable Use of a Cultural Landscape Feature | FICUS, Bangalore
LA 49
Naubad Karez at Bidar, Karnataka

Karez- a complex water harvesting system- is today understood to be interlinked with a widely dispersed variety of water footprints including settlements, holding ponds, reservoirs, wells, etc. This, has been observed to influence the landuse in the region of Naubad to a great extent. While the availability of ground water around Naubad area had become a catalyst for urbanisation, the lack of efficient water management systems, thereof, has led to the contamination of the same. Furthermore, the ignorance and apathy of the people has resulted in the structural deterioration of parts of the underground drains used in the karez system.
The historic town of Bidar situated in the north-eastern tip of Karnataka is known for its architectural, historical and religious significance. Its distinctive topography as an elevated laterite-capped plateau forms the basis of an unique and complex water harvesting system known as a karez. The karez system's roots lie in the well documented qanat systems of Persia. As a self-sustaining system karez were of great agro-economic significance for the local settlement and provided water for pleasure gardens, orchards and leisure retreats sited in the vicinity. These systems had a well-defined hierarchy of land use from source to mouth.

At the least, three karez systems are known to exist in Bidar. Amongst these, the Jamna Mori Karez and the Shukla Teerth Karez run below the walled city. The Naubad Karez runs to the west of the walled city and is the longest of the three. Its present known extent measures 1.80 kms from the mother well to the karez mouth near Siddheshwara Temple. The plateau of Bidar causes all the karez to straddle two different watersheds, unlike a typical qanat. In this aspect alone, it merits recognition as a typology rather than as a variant. It is speculated that the karez link these watersheds below ground. Topographic evidence and water flows indicate otherwise, suggesting that the alignment principally taps and channelizes groundwater.

Cultural significance of the project

Conservatively dated, the karez's occurrence in Bidar is coeval with the osmosis of Central Asian technology and cultural influences into the Deccan around the early 15th century CE. In the Deccan region, it predates the subterranean water systems found in Bijapur, Burhanpur and Aurangabad - dry regions with dominant black soil and Deccan Trap geology, compared to Bidar's thick lateritic soil. The laterite soil cap and bedding of kaolinite indicating a paleo water level creates an intrinsic difference in hydrogeological behaviour for the karez system at Bidar.

Within Karnataka, it has a slight affinity to the Malenadu (hill regions) of Karnataka known for their surangams - short water tunnels cut into lateritic terrain. The karez forms a unique contrast to early medieval water conservation systems of Northern Karnataka plains, notable for cascading holding ponds and articulated wells. Working models of Central Asian karez point to the highly likely prevalence of similar features and socio-economic organization in Bidar around the 15th century CE.

report |
Framing Landscapes of Urban Modernity
Modern Heritage, Frame Conclave 2019

Vanessa De Sa & Amey Korgaonkar

tribute |
Remembering Girish Karnad

Nina Chandavarkar

conversation |
Changing Human Relations with Nature

In conversation with Prof. David Gilmartin

heritage conservation |
Jaipur: World Heritage City

Dr. Shikha jain & Dr. Rima Hooja

Restoration of the Mughal Charbagh
at I'timad-Ud-Daulah Tomb Complex
Mughal riverfront gardens of Agra
A partnership project of the Archaeological Survey
of India and World Monuments Fund

Annabel Lopez

Restoration of a City Icon
Flora Fountain, Mumbai

Vikas Dilawari

photo essay |
Fortifying Nature
Re-activation of traditional water systems
in Chitradurga Fort

Mohan S. Rao

heritage conservation |
Advancement of Heritage Understanding,
Practice, Awareness, Advocacy & Research
Post graduate diploma in INTACH Heritage Academy

Navin Piplani

conversation |
Traditional Knowledge as Future Vision

In conversation with Harini Nagendra & Seema Mundoli

people's narratives |
Designing within the Informal

Swati Janu

conversation |
About Art & Nature

In conversation with Ebba Koch

book review |
Textures of Mughal Court
The Mughal Empire from Jahangir to Shah Jahan

Review by Dr. Priyaleen Singh

The Building as a Metaphor

Review by Ruturaj Parikh

Architecture for Water
Spatial Ecology of Water

Review by Snehanshu Mukherjee

website review |
To Stop Adding to the Problem,
Use Climate Positive Design

Review by Jared Green


© LA Journal 2019