In the historical city of Kathmandu, stone water spouts once served as a lifeline of water supply. These water sources were so designed to meet the need of community in those days when piped water was beyond the planning of the government. These places carried cultural, architectural and artistic significance, and these days, they hold archaeological and historical value though majority of them are not flowing with water. Time has changed, and so has the mode of water supply, to cater to the needs of the rising urban population. But the socio-cultural value of these community water spouts has not diminished. We may learn many things from them. Shrines of deities were the part and parcel of these spouts where early morning worships were performed after taking regular bath and filling the jars.
Fresh water from these spouts was mandatory to perform daily prayers, puja and rituals at home and temples. The spouts were artistically carved with the images of serpent gods and other deities. The architectural designs of these places are not less impressive. They hold a sense of awe and inspiration to artistic minds even today. Water to these spouts came from faraway sources through long under-ground canals. These canals have already been destroyed in course of digging foundations of high rise modern buildings in the capital city. No wonder then that water has stopped flowing from these spouts except a few ones.
The Valley’s historical water spouts have not only gone dry, but dozens of them have been lost in the concrete jungle of haphazard urbanisation and encroachment. A survey carried out by the Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Management Board (KVWSMB) in 2019 has recorded 573 water spouts in the capital valley. The survey found that 52 spouts have been lost while it is impossible to locate the whereabouts of 42 others. This shows that an important component of this valley’s civilisation is being pushed to oblivion. But application of modern technology has offered new hopes about the possibility of locating and excavating them. A news report carried by this daily on Monday revealed that the Department of Mines and Geology has initiated a survey to locate and unearth the buried historical spouts of the Valley with the use of Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR). As per the news report, it is the first time the GPR technology is being applied for such a purpose.
Besides tracing of lost stone spouts, this technology can go a long way in discovering the buried objects of archaeological value and lost chapters of historical civilisations. Many of the historical artefacts dating back to the Lichhavi and Kirat era may be lying buried and their potential tracing can lead to new historical findings. This valley is famous for harbouring invaluable treasure trove of ancient artefacts below the ground. Many a time, while digging the ground for development works, they have stumbled upon unexpected god sculptures and ancient spouts. The Hadigaun area of the capital seems to be full of many such artefacts which often get unearthed during road digging. The use of the GPR technology may lead to underground discoveries of so far only described in history books such as Kailashkut Palace built by Lichhavi king Anshubarma.