MEWAR’S UNPARALLELED WATER MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

Well known for their rare foresight  and deep insight, the rulers of Mewar have become pioneers in several fields and one of them is their unparalleled water management system. While selecting a suitable site for shifting of his capital from Chittorgarh to the saucer-shaped valley of Girwa,Maharana Udai Singh not only considered it a safe place against enemy attack,but also a suitable site for the  availability of adequate water for irrigation and drinking.In fact,all through the ages,the Maharanas have given due importance to conservation of water through measures such as watershed management, lake interlinkages, river interlinkages, and diversion of river water.

The oldest and one of the most beautiful lakes of Udaipur, Picchola was built by a Banjara, the chief of a tribe that was engaged in transport of grain.When Maharana Udai Singh moved his capital to Udaipur in 1559, he strengthened the dam and greatly enlarged the lake.Rainwater from Dewas Dam flows through Sisarma river and then mingles in Pichhola.Pichhola  is also connected with Goverdhan Sagar through a link channel constructed by Maharana Swaroop Singh.

Doodh Talai lake was also built by a nomadic Banjara and was used for  drinking water by the cattle of the tribe. A link channel connects it with Pichhola.

Amar Kund lake that was built by Amar Chand Barwa, a Minister of Mewar, is situated between Pichhola and Rangsagar and connects the two waterbodies by a link channel constructed by Maharana Udai Singh at the time of foundation of Udaipur. Kumhariya Talab is interconnected with Pichola Lake and Rang Sagar.

Rang Sagar lake was constructed by Maharaja Raj Singh Second. It acts as a link channel between Pichhola towards South and Swaroop Sagar in the North.It is interconnected with Amar Kund and Kumharia Talab.

The pear shaped Swaroop Sagar was constructed by Maharana Swaroop Singh. It is interconnected with Rangsagar and Fatehsagar. The overflow of this lake can either fill Fatehsagar or merge with Ayad River at Gumaniwala Nullah.

The place where Fatehsagar, the biggest lake in Udaipur after Pichhola,exists now, was built during the reign of Maharana Jaisingh and was known as Dewali ka Talab after the village Dewali where it is located. Later on Maharana Fatehsingh built a new big dam. As the lake was close to Pichhola, a channel was built to connect the two waterbodies. The water flowing through the surrounding hillocks drains into this lake. It is fed by Badi lake, Chhota Madar and Bada Madar. Finally the overflow of Pichhola and Fatehsagar mingles with Udai Sagar through Ayad river.

Located about 10 kilometres to the west of Udaipur town, Badi Lake also called Jana Sagar, was built during the reign of Maharana Raj Singh. It was designed by Kisna,son of Sugra Ram. It was built on the Ubeshwar river. It feeds Fatehsagar.

It is noticeable that Fatehsagar gets more water from Pichhola through the link canal and Bada and Chhota Madar than from its own catchment area. Udai Sagar has a dam across a valley or fully -bunded dam,a rare feature not found everywhere.It brings to the fore,the implementation of the norms of medieval town planning which states that following the establishment of a new town,a reservoir should be built to drain the sewage and waste water from the town to  a distant place, thereby saving the environment of the town and its vicinity from pollution. And this is what Udaisagar does for Udaipur.

The rulers of Mewar were pioneers in linking and diverting the course of rivers.Long before 1869, when Mediterranean and Red Sea were connected through Suez Canal,Maharana Raisingh First got the waters of Ubeshwar river diverted to Morwana river by building a check dam wall.

Prior to this, Ubeshwar river used to flow into Chhota Madar.Similarly Maharana Fatehsingh got the surplus waters of Ayad river diverted to  Fatehsagar through the construction  of Chikalwas feeder canal.

Realizing that the hard rock’s like dolomite were not suitable for collection of water, the Mewar rulers used them for dams to stop the flow of water.

For strengthening the dams,a special technique of filling the foundation with lead that was not known anywhere else in the world was used.

The dams were so designed that their average capacity was approximately double of the quantity they received in one average monsoon.In this way,water was available during droughts and it was not wasted in times of floods.

There was a proper system of desilting the lakes.The farmers were allowed to desilt the lakes on their own expenses.Silt was to be taken from near the banks where it was deposited again during the next monsoon.

For making the maximum use of water,it was first of all used for irrigation. Meanwhile, the water that seeped into wells and   ‘Baoris’ was used for drinking. For this purpose wells and Baoris were dug near places like Gulab Bagh and Saheliyon Ki Bari that were close to the lakes.This resulted in the proper use of water for two main purposes and at the same time the underground water level also used to be high.In the city and neighbouring areas. Cereals, vegetables and fruits also grew in abundance.

The water of the lakes was used for irrigation of Rabi crop, so that by summer season the water level of the lakes went down and expansion was reduced which in turn resulted in less exposure to sun and less evaporation.

The lakes were built in  the East South of the city.So the wind that blew from East South to North West in summer,kept the city and the green areas cool.

The town planners chose barren rocky areas to build palaces, temples and houses and the fertile areas were left for crops and gardens that provided the green belt with high underground water level.

An underground canal was built at the tri junction of roads leading to Fatehpura, Badgaon and Bedla.It was constructed under a road that had heavy traffic. An innovative syphon device was employed in which water was conveyed from one point to another through a U -shaped structure usually passing an obstacle. The outlet point had to be lower than the inlet point to cover the friction losses. So the canal water level was kept about three metres higher than the road level. There were two circular wells on both the sides. Water was conveyed across the road from the upper well to the lower one through a barrel below the road connecting the wells.In this way the desired canal water level was maintained even after crossing the road. About 440 hectares of land was irrigated every year from Fatehsagar, most of which was through this canal and so it used to run throughout the year. With gradual increase in supply of water for drinking purposes from Fatehsagar, the availability of water for irrigation was reduced year by year and finally stopped by the year 1980.So this structure and the canal system became obsolete. People used to take bath at the top of both the wells.It was a popular landmark called Kothi in Hindi and Siphon in English.There was lush greenery and mango farms on both sides of the road.

The deep knowledge of different aspects of water management system and its implementation by the rulers of Mewar has contributed substantially to the development of the region in its

own way.

( Source:Dr.G.P.Soni and Dr.K.P.Singh)

 

 

 

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