Rehabilitation of Qanat/Karez system of Bidar (Karnataka)

Completed in 2022

The Bahmani dynasty ruled much of the Deccan for almost 200 years, from the mid-14th century to the beginning of the 16th century. Their capital, Bidar, now lies in ruins but remains one of the great historical sites of India. Our conservation efforts are focused on preserving the main city ruins, along with the Royal Necropolis at Ashtur, the Baridi royal sepulchres and gardens, and the nearby 15th century Qanat irrigation system (still in use today).

Groundwater has always been one of the main water sources in the Deccan region of India and the Qanat/Karez system is one of the most ingenious methods for collecting, transporting, storing and distributing this essential resource. The Qanat/Karez system of Bidar, the earliest in the Deccan, was introduced by emigrants from Iran in the 15th century, and then adapted by local experts to the particularities of the Deccan’s geological formations.

The Qanat/Karez system consists of gradually sloping, horizontal and subterranean water tunnels carved into water-bearing permeable rock. The tunnels at Bidar are accessed by vertical wells, dug at regular intervals along the length of the horizontal tunnel, providing access to the water. The rehabilitation and preservation of Bidar’s hydraulic system is essential in our times considering India’s needs for this increasingly sparse necessity. Bidar’s ever growing population will profit from the restoration of this hydraulic system that will provide water:

  • For their agricultural lands and contribute to increased productivity, leading to more and better quality food.
  • The community will have access to clean drinking water, hence better health conditions.
  • In a landscape of undulating terrain, water will be available with minimum energy costs.
  • The system will contribute to a better urban environment as well as to the preservation of an authentic historical engineering marvel.

Essential to the restoration of the Qanat/Karez is ensuring that it will be able to provide clean water to the local communities not only immediately but long into the future. With this in mind, the DHF has installed a solid waste management system that currently filters the water, also contributing to the maintenance of the system's structural integrity. A three-wheeled waste disposal buggy works alongside the water filter for the community, collecting solid waste from local houses and taking them to a waste plant to be treated.

Water pollution however is still a concern, and so the DHF is currently fundraising to install a liquid waste management system that will both protect the tunnel from contamination and support the landscape of the areas around the wells and the original water source. Once installed, the resulting landscaped environment will blossom as a social space too, providing a collective location for all the different communities that live along the course of this hydraulic system - unique to the Deccan - to meet, interact and cooperate.

The project 'Rehabilitation and Revitalization of the Karez at Bidar', undertaken for the Bidar District Administration, is a collaboration:

  • The Deccan Heritage Foundation (DHF) is a technical partner and the one that financed the study and planning of the project
  • The Indian Heritage Cities Network Foundation (IHCN-F) who were the main proponents of the project
  • International Center for Qanats & Hydraulic Structures (ICQHS), a UNESCO center, as a technical partner

The DHF is extremely grateful for the sponsorship and support that the project has received thus far:

  • The Tata Trusts have sponsored the DHF in the planning phase of the work with US$ 50,000 undertaken in 2016-18.
  • Nestle India have sponsored the DHF for the planning and partial execution of waste management in the areas above the Qanat/Karez with US$ 50,000 and has been undertaken.

Fundraising is still ongoing, with the DHF hoping to raise a further US$ 100,000 (£75,000) which will go towards installing the aforementioned liquid waste management system.

To get to know more about this project, watch the video below.


To further explore the Karez, and to keep up to date with the progress of the project, go to