Art & Culture, Mountains

on water of the woods…

Naula, traditional water system, Uttarakhand, India

the way we mistreat water more or less defines the way we mistreat the gods, cleaving away the elements to deprive divinity of its roots and imprisoning it in a seclusion that can leave even the most devout stymied at times… yet one feels that this thought is more of an urban construct, as a fair amount of tradition still survives, and also thrives at times, in the heart of our agrarian fabric, or even the forest dwellers…

Naula, traditional water system, Uttarakhand, India

naulas in Kumaun are a case in point, a fair number of them punctuating the green landscapes of the region… subterranean water systems that were tapped as a source of forest filtered freshwater and then knitted into the cultural tapestry to discourage over-extraction… they are a remnant of the reverence bestowed upon landscapes by hill and forest dwellers, their understanding of the intricate and inextricable natural systems… translated into divine to entrench the knowledge for posterity…

Naula, traditional water system, Uttarakhand, India

that they are drying up comes as no surprise with mass aspirations (and the politico) moving up the infrastructure ladder, but that they still maintain their religious status quo amidst an influx of other cultures and telecommunications is heartening to see… the compact architectural canopies built around them are unique, the natural filtration systems have not been usurped by soaps, and newlyweds still seek their blessings…

Naula, traditional water system, Uttarakhand, India

the only neglect perhaps comes from the fact that they are branded traditional… not only aquifers, but a large part of indigenous and traditional knowledge would be much better off without this tag of antiquity that misrepresents the old as irrelevant… if change is the only constant then the modern is nothing but an evolution of the traditional, and trying to compartmentalize the two would be an exercise in futility…

this particular naula sits in a rather nondescript manner right next to the Ranikhet-Kosi road… not far from a Golu Dev temple that has a dozen or so hero stones adorning its compound… ‘tis not a very elaborate structure in terms of architectural ornamentation, but the water is still cool and clear and the enclosure is thankfully free of waste…

Traditional water system, Uttarakhand, India

Musings on aquifers, Uttarakhand

Author: Parth Joshi

Allured by the outdoors, the author is made up in parts of that quintessential lost soul wreathing under the pangs of biophilia in a desk job, a wannabe elegist mostly ending up in dungeons of poetasters and an optimist waiting for the senility of the modern world to fade away while sampling shoots and leaves. In saner times, he has a keen interest in areas pertaining to tourism, history, agriculture and climate change, especially with respect to historical interpretations, emerging technologies and future livelihoods. An avid trekker, runner, cyclist, birder and photographer, he is more often than not found gloating over anything hinterland, on foot or over computer monitors, and fantasizing solutions that can foster inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods for communities at the grassroots.

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