‘Temple tanks once played well the role of water harvesters for the people’

A view of the Kamatchi Amman temple tank in Kancheepuram.   | Photo Credit: K. Pichumani

Rapid urbanisation has ensured that water bodies in the city have all but vanished. While the city had copious rainfall in 2015 to quench the thirst of the residents for several years, the encroachments and poor maintenance of water bodies and temple tanks brought us to a water shortage situation within a few years, said historian Chithra Madhavan.

Giving a talk on 'The Role of Temple Tanks in South India's water management' organised by Smithsonian Institution and Water Matters held in the city on Thursday, Ms. Madhavan bemoaned the undoing of the wisdom and hardwork of the elders, who had constructed hundreds of temple tanks. Today garbage blocks the inlets, and the tanks soon dry up completely.

Taking the audience on a pictorial journey with nuggets of history behind the construction of the water tanks built by various kings, Ms. Madhavan showcased the advanced water harvesting and storing techniques developed even in dry Gujarat and Rajasthan. She said: “While people talk about the aquaducts of Rome, water ducts were constructed in temple tanks here ages ago but failed to get the recognition.”

Pointing to the different designs employed in the step tanks, Ms. Madhavan said the step tanks of Kamalapur Tank of Hampi in Karnataka, and Rani Ki Vav and Adalaj Stepwell in Gujarat, have intricately carved statues. The step tanks had layers and layers of waters and had served the visitors and the villagers well in those days.

Ms. Madhavan gave a little bit of history behind the construction of the Veeranam Eri by the soldiers of Veera Narayana Parantaka Cholan. She said King Parantaka Cholan had sent his son with an army to take on the invaders but finding the enemy failing to show up and to keep the soldiers engaged, a water tank was dug up. She also said there was a scientific purpose for having temple tanks, as the place where ‘soil tests’ needs to be done for constructing temples would be dug up and converted into water bodies.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2021 10:45:40 PM |

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