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  Ancient water stone spouts (Hiti) of Lalitpur City by Binod Kafle M.A. Culture


Human civilization is related to nature from pre-historic period to modern eras archaeologically. The small riverside (Bagmati, Bishnumati etc) civilization of Nepal has stepped a lot of archaeological phases of civilization to develop and construct the Kathmandu valley culture to settle the society of ancient and medieval period. The Hindu scriptures, Vedas depict Hindu culture as nature and sacrifice worshipping. The Vedic people granted natural elements as 'nature god'. They worshipped Baruna deity as 'Mitra Baruna' to control raining and its disasters. Later people used water for the creation and controlling power of Jiva (Life). Thus water became an inevitable element as the purification material like fire (Agni) which are necessary from birth to death in our human life. The use of water in ancient period of Nepal was a continuation of religious work, mentioned as in our Shiva Purana and other Puranas. Here the utility of water used in our religious and secular life. In ancient period of Nepal, people used to worship the source of water and managed them according to the situations and circumstances. The Lichchhavi inscriptions of Basanta Deva, Saka Sambat 428(506 A.D.), mentioned water keeping in a 'Guthi' named "Paniya Gosthi". This 'Paniya Gosthi' used to manage the proper use of water in society and that would be well, pond, water spout etc.  In course of managing water people established water stone spouts in society choosing proper location of settlement. Kathmandu valley is a main center of development in the history of Nepal from ancient to present period. Moreover among the four judicial councils of the ancient period "lanjgval panchalika" (water managing committee) would manage the difficulties of water division in villages. Similarly environmental, religious, economic, cultural point of views, the importance of water increased day by day which later, local people made the water sources as in water stone spouts, well, ponds etc. Gradually on the bases of hitis, people named their localities, not only in ancient period, and it continued mostly in mediaeval period. For instance, hitis of Lichchhavi period of Lalitpur Sub-Metropolitan city area, Nuga Hiti (Sundhara – Sambat 34 of Amsuvarma in Patan Sundhara mentioned in inscription) of  Sundhara tole and Chyasal Hiti  of Chyasal tole are some most significant and authentic facts which still now have carried a lot of archeological evidences. Comparatively the medieval period was a fertile time in the use of water stone spouts in Kathmandu valley. In the case of Lalitpur district only innumerable hitis were established with demographic increase of people, village and the then circumstances, other economic, religious cultural and political situations. Due to these causes the utility and importance of water conduits were one of the basic needs of families in societies. Conducting this research, we understood that many names of Toles are derived as per the local hitis, Degas, Dhokas, etc. Here it is known that there was an interrelated relationship between the water sources or water stone spouts and local places or societies. Many medieval water stone spouts were paid respect and constructed in the mankind of social welfare which is mentioned in inscriptions of that particular place. These medieval inscriptions, related to hitis, are found in Sanskrit and Newari languages and other different Newari Scripts. In Shah Period, the Shah and Rana rulers had done some renovation works in the field of social and religious constructive works keeping the records in inscriptions. Whenever the medieval period was mostly devoted to do some social works and consecrated water stone spout, like wise the Shah period also renovated the dilapidated water sources. Actually, Shah period was guided from the neoclassical architecture which had given less importance to the ancient monument in the construction style. When Janga Bahadur (first Rana prime minister) came back from Europe (1846 A.D.) he and his successors adopted modern styles in religious and secular architectures. Gradually with the development of architectural styles ancient and medieval water stone spouts also regarded less useful than the private and personal water taps of houses. The communal water stone spouts neglected. Similarly the new foundations of constructed huge buildings and other constructive works on the land blocked water sources with its drainage which led the ancient water stone spouts in very weak, poor and miserable conditions. In summer season most of the water stone spouts provides water three to four months regularly but water dries or decrease its level in other months. Moreover comparatively some water stone spouts give more water in summer season. Likewise water stone spouts situated in Lalitpur Sub-Metropolitan City area, are vanished and going to disappear in the womb of the earth. So it is necessary to preserve and conserve these sites as the historical and cultural monuments. It was a special technique to bring water by finding water sources. Later, people converted those sources into temporary wooden spouts. Concentrating the demand of local people, they installed more durable and permanent spouts as water stone spouts in human settlement areas. In this way, to make the spouts clean, attractive and respective the royal families, feudal high officials or the citizens made Crocodile, Ox, Tiger faced spouts using wood, stone and metal materials which are still scattered in the societies of Lalitpur Sub Metropolitan city areas.

 

 

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