Construction of Water Storages in South India: A Critical Analysis through Historical Perspective

L. P. Maruthi


India is a country with very profound historical roots and strong cultural behaviour. These are reflected in its social structure and institutions of community life. Some of the traditions, evolved and developed thousands of years ago have played an important role in different spheres of life. One of the important among these is the tradition of collecting, storing and preserving water for various uses. As the population increased, settlements developed into towns and cities and agriculture expanded, techniques were developed to augment water availability by collecting and storing rain water, tapping hill and underground springs and water from snow and glacier melt etc. Water came to be regarded as precious and its conservation and preservation was sanctified by religion. Various religious, cultural and social rituals prescribed, interalia, purification and cleansing with water. Hence, the paper deals with the construction of water storages in South India in ancient period.  Tamil Nadu was the pioneer in this work, where the South India’s first huge water storage was constructed. The Sangama king Karikala Chola constructed the South India’s first reservoir to the Kaveri River which named as Kallanai reservoir. 1200 labourers worked in the construction. Who were captured by Karikala Chola from Silon. In order to adequate supply of water to agriculture the monarchy started the digging of water storages. The monarchy imposed irrigation tax on farmers that is why it was the mainly responsible for the construction of lake, reservoirs and well etc. the techniques of the construction were very natural. Natural mounds, mountains were used as embankments to the reservoirs. And particular trees were planted on around the bank of the reservoir to give strength against the floods. These reservoirs are survived till today and we using the water from the same. Apart from the State reservoirs were constructed by individuals, village communities and temple committees.

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