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Rainwater Harvesting in India 2000 years back


Got a chance to visit Kanheri caves in Mumbai a while back. Those are awesome collection of caves, more than 100 in total, part of Buddhist heritage of India.

While I was visiting the caves, one thing really struck me. The architects of the cave had integrated a beautiful rainwater harvesting system in almost every cave. See the picture below.

Almost every cave has at least one crevice running along the walls. The crevice usually starts at the very top in a small ditch on the roof or along the slopes. And it ends right above a water tank. The rainwater flowing on the hill slope starts collecting in the ditch on the roof, then it flows through the crevice and falls in the water tank. In the picture above, towards the right side, where the crevice ends, there is a tank in the ground.

Simple, genius and reliable. Heck, it is still working, because when I looked there was water in those tanks.

The water held in the tank probably lasted through the year. I visited in March and considering that it rains in Mumbai only from June to September, the tanks were still full.

These caves were constructed about 2000 years back. The architects that time had figured out a way to build things in a natural and sustainable way. Why can’t we do that today? Why Mumbai residents have water shortage in summer? Why we fail to do today what our ancestors did┬ámillenniums┬áback?

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One Response

  1. Wonderful info! Yes, we have lost our ancestors’ wisdom! Today the got has to insist on rainwater harvesting provisions before giving license to build! Am from Kerala and in the north of Kerala, there is a unique structure called ‘surangam’ (meaning roughly tunnel) which is a horizontal method of rainwater harvesting!

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