Kuls are water channels found in precipitous mountain
areas. These channels carry water from glaciers to villages
in the Spiti valley of Himachal Pradesh. Where the terrain
is muddy, the kul is lined with rocks to keep it
from becoming clogged. In the Jammu region too, similar
irrigation systems called kuhls are found.
Naula is a surface-water harvesting method typical to
the hill areas of Uttaranchal. These are small wells or
ponds in which water is collected by making a stone wall
across a stream.
Khatris are structures, about 10x12 feet in size and
six feet deep carved out in the hard rock mountain. The
specially trained masons construct them at a cost of Rs
10,000-20,000 each. These traditional water harvesting
structures are found in Hamirpur, Kangra and Mandi districts
of Himachal Pradesh.
There are two types of khatris: one for animals and
washing purposes in which rain water is collected from
the roof through pipes, and other used for human consumption
in which rainwater is collected by seepage through rocks.
Interestingly, the khatris are owned by individual as
well as by a community. There are government khatris
as well, which are maintained by the panchayat.
Kuhls are a traditional irrigation system in Himachal
Pradesh- surface channels diverting water from natural
flowing streams (khuds). A typical community kuhl
services six to 30 farmers, irrigating an area of about
20 ha. The system consists of a temporary headwall (constructed
usually with river boulders) across a khud (ravine)
for storage and diversion of the flow through a canal
to the fields. By modern standards, building kuhls
was simple, with boulders and labour forming the major
input. The kuhl was provided with moghas
(kuchcha outlets) to draw out water and irrigate
nearby terraced fields. The water would flow from field
to field and surplus water, if and, would drain back to
The kuhls were constructed and maintained by the village
community. At the beginning of the irrigation season,
the kohli (the water tender) would organise the irrigators
to construct the headwall, repair the kuhl and make the
system operational. The kohli played the role of a local
engineer. Any person refusing to participate in construction
and repair activities without valid reason, would be denied
water for that season. Since denial of water was a religious
punishment, it ensured community participation and solidarity.
A person was also free to participate by providing a substitute
for his labour. The kohli also distributed and managed