Traditional ‘gharat’ still used to grind flour in Sirmaur district : The Tribune India

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Traditional ‘gharat’ still used to grind flour in Sirmaur district

Traditional ‘gharat’ still used to grind flour in Sirmaur district

At a time when traditional methods have been forgotten, people are still using ‘gharat’ or water mills in the rural areas of Sirmaur to grind flour.



Pankaj Sharma

Nahan, February 21

At a time when traditional methods have been forgotten, people are still using ‘gharat’ or water mills in the rural areas of Sirmaur to grind flour.

In the past, grains were washed, dried and ground using hand mills, but now flour mills or machines running on electricity are used. However, there was an even older method that was once prevalent in the hilly areas, called ‘watermill’ or ‘gharat’ in the local dialect.

Watermills on the verge of extinction

  • The first reason for the extinction of ‘gharats’ is the lack of water sources
  • ‘Gharats’ were mainly built near fast-flowing water sources but for various reasons such as droughts, climate change and water diversion for irrigation, many sources have dried up, resulting in their closure
  • The second reason is the lack of time. Making flour in a ‘gharat’ requires time and effort, which is no longer practical in today’s fast-paced world

A ‘gharat’ requires a fast flow of water to run. It is built on the banks of a ravine, downstream of a fast-flowing water source. A turbine is installed below the fast flow of water, which is driven by flowing water. Inside the ‘gharat’ two round and large stones are placed, one above the other. The turbine is connected to these stones, and as soon as the strong flow of water falls on the turbine, both stones start rotating. A hole is made in the middle of the stone placed above, from where the grains fall little by little and keep getting ground between the two stones. Once the flour is finely ground, it is then taken out of the stone and collected.

In the Trans-Giri area of Sirmaur district, these water-powered ‘gharats’ are still functional, and people prefer the delicious flour ground in it. “This flour is rich in protein and fibre and has a unique taste and texture. However, the number of ‘gharats’ has reduced considerably over time due to several reasons,” says Rattan Chand, a resident of Bharli village.

The first reason for the extinction of “gharats” is the lack of water sources. ‘Gharats’ were mainly built near fast-flowing water sources but for various reasons such as droughts, climate change and water diversion for irrigation, many sources have dried up, resulting in their closure. The second reason is the lack of time. Making flour in a ‘gharat’ requires time and effort, which is no longer practical in today’s fast-paced world. Moreover, electric mills have made this work easier and faster, resulting in the gradual closure of ‘gharats’, adds Rattan Chand.

In the past, ‘gharats’ were not only a source of livelihood but also a way of life. No money was spent on grinding flour and instead the owner of the ‘gharat’ used to take some quantity of grain as wages.

However, with the closure of ‘gharats’, a significant part of the traditional way of life has also disappeared. “It is essential to preserve such traditional methods not only for their historical significance but also for their unique taste and nutritional value,” says Rattan.

#Nahan #Sirmaur


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