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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-213
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-213
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: review article 11 May 2020

Submitted as: review article | 11 May 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Hydrology and Water Resources Management in Ancient India

Pushpendra Kumar Singh1, Pankaj Dey2, Sharad Kumar Jain3, and Pradeep Mujumdar2,4 Pushpendra Kumar Singh et al.
  • 1Water Resources Systems Division, National Institute of Hydrology,Roorkee, 247667, India
  • 2Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, 560012, India
  • 3Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, 247667, India
  • 4Interdisciplinary Centre for Water Research, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, 560012, India

Abstract. Hydrologic knowledge in India has a historical footprint extending over several millenniums through the Harappan Civilisation (~ 3000 BC–1500 BC) and the Vedic period (~ 1500–500 BC). As in other ancient civilisations across the world, the need to manage water propelled the growth of hydrologic science in ancient India also. Most of the ancient hydrologic knowledge, however, has remained hidden and unexplored to the world at large till the recent times. In this paper, we provide some fascinating glimpses into the hydrological, hydraulic and related engineering knowledge that existed in ancient India, as discussed in contemporary literature and in the recent explorations and findings. The Vedas, particularly, the Rigveda, Yajurveda and Atharvaveda have many references to water cycle and associated processes, including water quality, hydraulic machines and other structures and nature-based solutions (NBS) for water management. The Harappan Civilization epitomizes the level of development of water sciences in ancient India that includes construction of sophisticated hydraulic structures, wastewater disposal systems based on centralized and decentralized concepts as well as methods for wastewater treatments. The Mauryan empire (~ 322 BC–185 BC) is credited as the first hydraulic civilization characterised by construction of dams with spillways, reservoirs, channels equipped with spillways, pynes and Ahars, understanding of water balance, development of water pricing systems, measurement of rainfall and knowledge of the various hydrological processes. As we investigate deeper into hydrologic references in ancient literature, including the Indian mythology, many fascinating dimensions of the early scientific endeavours of Indians emerge.

Pushpendra Kumar Singh et al.

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Pushpendra Kumar Singh et al.

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Short summary
Like in all ancient civilisations, the need to manage water propelled the growth of hydrological science in ancient India also. In this paper, we provide some fascinating glimpses into the hydrological, hydraulic and related engineering knowledge existed in ancient India, as discussed in contemporary literature and in the recent explorations and findings. Many interesting dimensions of early scientific endeavours emerge as we investigate deeper into ancient texts, including Indian mythology.
Like in all ancient civilisations, the need to manage water propelled the growth of hydrological...
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