Water Management through Indigenous Knowledge: A Case of Historic Settlement of Bhaktapur City, Nepal

©2014 Textbook 38 Pages


Techno-Anthropological approach has been formulated in researching a traditional settlement of Bhaktapur City, Nepal. The practices of indigenous people have been analyzed by juxtaposing the science along with the indigenous technology. It has been significantly concluded that, the impetus behind the city sustainability is primarily the indigenous knowledge and sometimes this knowledge is overwhelming to even the modern scientific aspects too. Indigenous technology of water management in the historic city of Bhaktapur has been also found to be significant not only in terms of supply rather in terms of quality of water too. The reusability of water resources has given an excellent paradigm even to the modern approaches too. The lifestyle in terms of culture and religion has been associated with water for this city, and water management is also facilitated through cultural practices and religious establishments. A city regarded as ‘City of Devotees’ has disseminated a remarkable approach for the water management by keeping aside the modern scientific approaches. The city was established in the 13th century and practices are continuously adopted since then as indigenous practices through unrelenting trial and error, the indigenous technology of water management has been found to be rational hence revitalization of some components might be more energy efficient and economic for present day water scarcity solution in the city.


Table of Contents

1.1. Background of the Study
1.2. Statement of the problem
1.3. Objectives of the Study
1.4. Conceptual of the frameworks

2.1. Theoretical Reviews

3.1. Rationale of the selection of study area
3.2. Research Design
3.3. Nature and sources of data
3.4. Universe and sampling
3.5. Data collection techniques
3.6. Reliability and validity of information
3.7. Interpretation of Information
3.8. Limitations of the study

4.1. Tun
4.2. Hiti
4.3. Pukhu
4.4. Water Management through other Indigenous Practices
4.4.1. Feasting Culture
4.4.2. Cultural Milieu
4.4.3. Recycling and sustainable use of water
4.4.4. Water storage
4.4.5. Recharge scenario







1.1. Background of the Study

Indigenous knowledge refers to the unique traditional knowledge existing within and developed around specific conditions of women and men indigenous to particular geographical area (Grenier, 1998). Indigenous technologies are never documented rather transferred to the next generation through field practices. The traditional Newari settlement of Bhaktapur municipality has adopted peculiar cultural panorama and in this panorama the water management technology has been identified as the peculiar one. The management of ground water, surface as well as rain water has led the city to be sustainable till date for the water supply. The indigenous technology of water management has not been quarried out hitherto, though it has to be excavated duly because of its relevance till date, which dates back to be established for some centuries. The traditional settlement of Bhaktapur city, established by the Malla dynasty has been still implementing and consuming the same technology as well as the established sources of water as Tuns, Hitis, and Pukhus, etc. The recharge of ground water, harvesting of rainwater, and somehow the management of surface water, their managerial practices and consumption is still in the mystery and such abundant technology has to be analyzed in terms of their technology of managing this, as indigenous technology. The quasi-technical research hinged with the cultural practices and the technology adopted is most for understanding the water management panorama of Bhaktapur city.

Bhaktapur being the culturally most preserved city in Nepal has its hundreds of distinct cultures which are associated with scientific practices too. As it is regarded to be the ‘City of Devotees’, the unrelenting efforts in executing the practices have led to be the city as an exemplary of genius works which are beyond the capacity for the rest of the world. Beside the expectation of generalities, the traditional practices have curtained some scientific aspects too, in such regard; it is obvious for the sustainability of culture and practices to a particular community. Water management over a uprising slope is primarily a hectic task for present day engineers too, but the water management scenario of the medieval period has been found to be significant and sustainable for centuries, so that the facts behind such constructability, general trends, and cultural milieu are to be dealt with great care for excavating the facts behind the indigenous technology, its efficiency and the related sustainability too.

1.2. Statement of the problem

The sustained city has now been facing the severe water scarcity in recent years, though the technology established some century back has been contributing in the water supply of this city. The row houses and densely populated city due to swelling rather than expanding, has been regarded as the cultural city; Tuns, Hitis, and Pukhus have been contributing in the water supply but in recent years there has been a severe water scarcity due to degradation of water quantity in these sources. The reason behind the degradation of the water quantity might be both anthropogenic as well as natural, however the anthropogenic activities are to be monitored closely for sustaining this city with due consideration of the cultural preservation and heritage conservation. The festivals associated with the water management, construction technology, water management technology including source identification as well as exploitation has the greater importance over the water management scenario. The Raj Kulo system which was supplying this city through a well established network of Hitis was devastated during the great Bihar-Nepal earthquake of 1934, since then the water scarcity has been found to be alarming over there. So this research would answer the anthropogenic activities that are directly associated with the degradation of water quality as well as quantity in the city. The major aspect of this research would be the assessment of the water resources in terms of their construction, the technology behind the construction practices, the science behind the water management, the indigenous technology of integrated water supply and sanitation system, and the reusability aspect of the water in this city. The construction practices and the adopted technology for source identification and exploitation trend would be disseminated after this research.

1.3. Objectives of the Study

The objectives behind the research are associated with the identification and analysis of indigenous technologies and find their relevance in terms of water supply, conveyance system, re-usability of water, water quality and cleaning of water resources, and the cultural practices triggering the better management of water. This research would delineate the indigenous technology associated with the water management in the densely populated settlement. The Newari settlement has been identified as the sustained community for centuries so this research would be furnishing the indigenous knowledge associated with the water management to be a self sustained city till date. This research specifically intends to:

- Identify the indigenous technology practiced for water management.
- Check the relevance of the indigenous water management approach with reference to modern approaches.
- Search the cultural practices leading to better water management.

1.4. Conceptual of the frameworks

The research would be based upon the field survey, archive study, interpretation of the existing indigenous technology with the modern approaches. Indigenous technology is never documented traditional remaining in the indigenous communities, so the devotion of men and women has developed this technology to be practiced for generations; moreover indigenous technology as being learnt from the continuous trial and error has gotten a massive science behind this. This further hinges the construction practices, cultural anthropological practices, beliefs, indigenous knowledge of water management, etc. In the indigenous settlement of Bhaktapur, where more than 95% people are Newars, and Newars are famous for their skills definitely have hundreds of indigenous practices which are even sound than the scientific formulations somehow. In this context, the indigenous technology of water management might have come across with the unrelenting trial and error thus leading an effectively water managed community. The establishment of Raj Kulo with the gravity flow has a remarkable science behind this.

The indigenous technology practiced wildly through the transfer of technology and without being formally documented has been proved to be as scientific as the modern technology. Indigenous technology is formulated after a very long trial and error process has gotten the experience to be incorporated within it. So, indigenous technology might have greater influence for formulating sustainable cities in past days. The construction practices, beliefs and the cultural milieu governed by the indigenous knowledge have proven to be accountable in many aspects.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Fig.1. Conceptual of framework



Type of Edition
ISBN (Softcover)
File size
6.1 MB
Publication date
2014 (February)
Indigenous Technology Water Management Bhaktapur City


Dipendra Gautam, a young hectic interdisciplinary researcher is renowned for his unique and up-to-date research topics in Anthropology. A graduate in Anthropology from Tribhuvan University, Nepal has been paying his unrelenting efforts to fulfil the hiatus between academics and research. His due dedication in research has quarried out many facts behind the indigenous people of Nepal; the approaches for his research include techno-anthropological perspectives on indigenous knowledge and practices. He is a pioneer researcher in indigenous knowledge and practices in Nepal. He has accomplished several researches regarding the dimensions of indigenous knowledge systems through extensive field works and regular attachment with the indigenous people. He has even performed several researches in geotechnical earthquake engineering before switching as an anthropological scholar. He is a well recognized scholar in geotechnical earthquake engineering and anthropology. He is well admired for his dedication and seminal interpretations of research findings.

Title: Water Management through Indigenous Knowledge: A Case of Historic Settlement of Bhaktapur City, Nepal