What is a Qanat/Karez: Qanat/Karez consists of an almost horizontal tunnel with a gentle slope, accessed by wells at intervals connecting the tunnel to the surface. This is an ingenious technology which has made it possible for humans to exist and flourish in dry environments. The qanat/karez carries a tradition of science and technology which used to be practiced in order to overcome the technical obstacles of its construction. Thus, the qanat/karez is not only a means of irrigation, but it should be seen as a technical and cultural legacy which deserves more attention. Although qanats/karez are seemingly similar across the world, they in fact vary from region to region as they adapt to various geological conditions and geographical particularities. These are reflected in the physical structures and management systems of the qanats/karez.

Karez environment 1

What is unique about the Qanat/Karez at Bidar? The qanat/karez in Bidar has resulted from a systematic relationship between human needs and their environment.  Laterite gave the early builders an opportunity to consider the aesthetic aspect of the qanat/karez and deploy the architectural heritage of the region even in these new structures for the Deccan. Almost in every version of the qanat/karez, the tunnel taps the aquiferous levels of the region. But in Bidar, they were not only concerned about the engineering aspect of qanat/karez construction, but also envisioned architectural possibilities by building beautiful stone walls, elaborate arches cut out of laterite, etc. In Bidar, qanat/karez and architecture are interwoven, as the square shape of the wells suited the cutting out of cubic stone blocks for other construction projects.

The Qanat/Karez at Naubad: In Naubad, the qanat/karez line runs south-west to north-east for more than 2 kilometers. It is distinguished by subterranean tunnels cut into the laterite rock which is punctured every 50 meters by vertical air shafts/vents that connect the tunnel to the surface. Water from a near-perennial water body, infiltrated water along various sections in the qanat/karez gallery and storm water run-off infiltrated the gallery through the air-vents, to be conveyed through the tunnel into the Naubad settlement. Till the recent past, water carried through these tunnels has been beneficial to the local communities for both irrigation and drinking.

Unfortunately, years of neglect and lack of effective protection has led to the degradation of the structure of the tunnel. This compounded by lack of an efficient sewer and waste management system has led to the contamination of the tunnel and the groundwater in the area. In effect, the historic water system has fallen into disuse. Now, with an acute water shortage in the area, there is a growing interest amongst the community and the governing authorities to revive the historic water system.

Karez at naubad