Canals: The Lost Heritage of Doon – Guest Column
by Nomaan Khan
Sometimes a city is defined by its history, sometimes by its food, culture, people, lifestyle, language, heritage and many other things. In a broader picture all of these things are inter related to each other. Culture binds the people, people follow a lifestyle this lifestyle consist of the food they eat, the clothes they wear and forms of dance they perform , all of these comes under heritage.
And what does heritage comprises of ? The heritage is overshadowed by the assumption that heritage values only constitutes to Art, Culture and Festivals but, when we talk about a city and its heritage it can also be a visual or physical matter with which the residents have been connecting themselves by perception, vision and sense over a notable period of time.
By these definitions if we try to define Dehradun we will start with the Clock Tower, F.R.I Building, I.M.A to Paltan Bazaar and Rajpur road. All these places can be termed as heritage of Dehradun because they are like a part of life to many residents of this town. There might be people who will not easily agree to this idea, but on a deeper thought these things might be correct to them. All these places exist since many of us were not even born and are still standing there to claim their heritage value to the onlookers. Now if you agree that the Paltan Bazaar or even a small restaurant like Lakshmi Restaurant (Paltan Bazar) carry an invaluable place in Doon and can be regarded as heritage of this town you are one step close to get more amazed.
Amazing it is that a human who was created as a reflection of God himself has a very materialistic approach in terms of recognizing things. We tend to value things that exist and boldly speak of their existence. But what about living resources of Doon and are still vanishing at the suburbs and people hardly care.
During the British time canals of Doon valley including Bijapur Canal, Rajpur Canal, Kalanga Canal and Katapathar Canal were laid and they have always been an integral part of the city and its ecology. Apart from having historical importance these canals served as the irrigation sources to various villages of that time like Rajpur Village, Amgarh, Kua Khala, Mahadev Khala and extreme western portions of doon. Also the Bijapur Canal serves as the drainage of Karkuli Valley. Sir Cautley constructed these canals during 1940-1455 to serve various villages of Doon valley however most of these canals lay underground in the name of development or widening of roads. And some existing canals are reconstructed as underground channels of water. And we don’t care at all.
Many of you will say that it’s ok that canals are now hidden under the earth and we don’t see them anymore because it was the need of time and development has to take place.
For the better understanding of these people I will let them know that being an Architect tells me that there is no way that we cannot develop a town and at the same time conserving the heritage value of that town. There are ways to do it and if we are not doing the right thing. It only means that either we don’t want to do it the right way or we don’t bother to pay any heed to the right way of doing things.