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Traditional water mills (Gharats) -A source of rural livelihood in mountainous region of Jammu and Kashmir

Traditional water mills (Gharats) -A source of rural livelihood in mountainous region of Jammu and Kashmir

Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge 17(3): 569-575

ISSN/ISBN: 0972-5938

The present exploratory study was conducted in Shivalik hills of Jammu region of J&K at an altitude of 4500-5000 ft height to document the traditional knowledge of the local people regarding traditional water mills locally called as "Gharats" used for grinding of different cereals and grains especially maize for their household consumption by using energy of flowing water. Among different cereal crops maize is predominately grown and is the staple food for the peasants of the area. Along with farming, these traditional water mills act as source of livelihood for the people of hilly areas. Water flowing in different perennial springs of these hills is utilized by the local people for operating their traditional water mills for grinding of maize & wheat. Elderly people of the village construct it by using locally available material. Wood of Quercus leucotrichophora locally known as "Banj"and Pinus roxburghii locally known as "Chir", clay and stones are predominately used for construction of gharats. Locally available stone called "kupar" is used for making grinders locally known as "pan" and "talli". Operators of gharat locally called as "Gharati" reported that they earn to the tune of (sic) 48000 to 52000/- annually from these gharats as charges for grinding maize and wheat grains and act as source of livelihood for farm households in addition to farming. Local inhabitants reported that these traditional water mills are cost effective source of grinding/milling of different grains, requires less maintenance and moreover are eco-friendly. Respondents also reported that flour obtained after grinding from these traditional water mills possesses longer keeping quality and more nutritious as compared to electric Attachaki. Erratic rainfall and snowfall due to climate change results in decreasing the water flow in perennial nallas which affects the continuous functioning of these traditional watermills.

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